Morning Chronicle - Aprilia riders lead in Malaysia MotoGP first day test

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Aprilia riders lead in Malaysia MotoGP first day test
Aprilia riders lead in Malaysia MotoGP first day test

Aprilia riders lead in Malaysia MotoGP first day test

Aprilia's motorcycle racing team took first and second place at the MotoGP pre-season test in Malaysia on Saturday, powering past all opponents on the first day at the Sepang circuit.

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Spaniard Aleix Espargaro came in top with a time of 1min 58.371sec on his ninth lap while compatriot Maverick Vinales clocked in a close runner-up at 1min 58.384sec.

"I think I can go a lot faster," Espargaro told reporters in a Zoom briefing after the test. "So let's see how we go about it."

Vinales, who finished a mere 0.013 seconds behind Espargaro, praised his teammate's performance.

"I think it's good if both riders are fast. I'm happy also that Aleix is fast and we both can compare," he told reporters.

The two Spaniards were among five riders who managed their best lap times on the 5.543-kilometre track, all under 1min 59sec, to beat 25 other racers.

Italian Alex Rins came in third on his Suzuki with a time of 1min 58.471sec, followed by Gresini Racing's Enea Bastianini on 1min 58.638sec.

Six-time world champion Marc Marquez claimed eighth for Repsol Honda at 1min 59.287sec despite being involved in a minor crash earlier in the day as well as a fall.

The team's Twitter account said Marquez, who was also involved in a crash in training last October leaving him with double vision, was "OK" after the latest incident.

Saturday's racing was Malaysia's first MotoGP test since before the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to the cancellation of three MotoGP events in 2020 and 2021 in the Southeast Asian country.

The pre-season test continues Sunday at the Sepang circuit while the season will officially start in Qatar on March 6.

Pre-season MotoGP test times on Saturday at the Sepang circuit (5.543 kilometres):

1. Aleix Espargaro (ESP/Aprilia) 1min 58.371sec

2. Maverick Vinales (ESP/Aprilia) 1min 58.384sec

3. Alex Rins (ITA/Suzuki) 1min 58.471sec

4. Enea Bastianini (ITA/Gresini) 1min 58.638sec

5. Johann Zarco (FRA/Pramac) 1min 58.946sec

6. Fabio Quartararo (FRA/Yamaha) 1min 59.002sec

7. Joan Mir (ESP/Suzuki) 1min 59.067sec

8. Marc Marquez (ESP/Honda) 1min 59.287sec

9. Pol Espargaro (ESP/Honda) 1min 59.353sec

10. Marco Bezzecchi (ITA/Mooney VR46) 1min 59.468sec