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Morbidelli, Nakagami: dark horses or sophomores?

With a year of experience under their belts, can the duo challenge the sharp end of the grid on a regular basis in 2019?

If the initial preseason tests are anything to go by, then both Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) are set for stellar second years in the premier class.

Will Nakagami and Morbidelli surprise us in Sepang?

Morbidelli arrived in MotoGP™ as the reigning Moto2™ World Champion. And despite missing two GPs through injury after an FP2 crash at Assen, the Italian went on to take the 2018 Rookie of the Year accolade ahead of Hafizh Syahrin. Now, Morbidelli has an ‘A spec’ Yamaha at his disposal for 2019 and the early signs are hugely positive; the 24-year-old coming P6 in both the Valencia and Jerez tests.

2018: Franco Morbidelli's best year yet

As for Nakagami, he will be riding a 2018 spec RC213V for the 2019 season, the same bike Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), his teammate Dani Pedrosa and Nakagami’s teammate Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) used last season. His transition from 2017 machinery to 2018 machinery? Well, P9 in Valencia was positive for the Japanese rider, but an immensely impressive P1 at the Jerez Test gave us a good indicator of the speed Nakagami could possess this year.

Takaaki Nakagami sets the pace for 2019

Both riders will continue to put the work in and build on the first two 2019 tests at the Sepang Test next week. Can either of them top the timesheets? Keep up with their progress on, where we will have reports, reactions, interviews, highlights and an After the Flag show after each day. 

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