Bagnaia trumps Martin after Day 1 in the desert

The Desmosedicis spoiled what may have been an Aprilia party and provided a resounding reminder that they aren't going away in 2024

As the 2024 Qatar Test kicks off, a familiar face once again graces the top of the timesheets after Day 1. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) showcased his prowess with a 1:52.040 lap, closely trailed by his 2023 Championship rival Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing), just 0.220s adrift. Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro kept pace with the GP24s once again for P3.

The opening day at Lusail International Circuit took a while to get going, with less-than-ideal desert conditions hampering proceedings. Wind played a significant role while it also took some time to put rubber down on a freshly resurfaced track, however, once the sun began to set, we saw a flurry of time attacks come in. Bagnaia led the charge though he still has a ways to go if he wants to reach 1:51:762; Luca Marini’s all time lap record set during QP at the 2023 Qatar GP.

Ducati Lenovo Team, Prima Pramac Racing, Pertamina Enduro VR46 Racing Team & Gresini Racing

Ducati's momentum from Sepang seems unabated, with a focused testing regime centered on refining the new engine and evaluating different fairings and exhaust setups. Bagnaia and Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team) both left it late until they went out on the full-spec 2024 machine, and found immediate improvements in their one lap pace.

Fabio Di Giannantonio’s (Pertamina Enduro VR46 Racing Team) hugely encouraging pre-season continues as he took P5 to help back up his Sepang performance, while Marco Bezzecchi (Pertamina Enduro VR46 Racing Team) finds himself outside the top 10 once again in P11. At Gresini Racing, Alex Marquez claimed seventh on the timesheets with Marc Marquez in P16. The eight-time World Champion recorded 58 laps on Monday, meaning he has now clocked over 280 laps aboard the Desmosedici without crashing.

Aprilia Racing & Trackhouse Racing

Sporting their sleek 2024 livery, Aprilia can certainly be encouraged by their performances on Day 1. Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) spent a large portion of the day in P1 before slipping to sixth, while it is Aleix Espargaro who is best placed in P3.

At one stage, three RS-GPs occupied the top three places on the timesheets, with Raul Fernandez (Trackhouse Racing) putting in a brilliant effort to join his factory counterparts at the business end of proceedings before ending the day 12th.

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing & Red Bull GASGAS Tech3

There’s plenty of encouragement on the timesheets for the RC16s with Binder taking fourth, with Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and rookie Pedro Acosta (Red Bull GASGAS Tech3) both in the 1:52s, while the latter spun the most laps of anyone with 73. Augusto Fernandez’ (Red Bull GASGAS Tech3) pre-season frustrations have continued though, with the 2022 Moto2™ World Champion placing P20 while also suffering a crash in addition to some technical issues earlier in the day.

From a testing perspective, the Austrian brand were quite busy with two new specs of engine plus a range of different aero set ups on the programme, though it seems the new air intake hasn’t been a hit with the riders.

Repsol Honda Team & LCR Honda

There are plenty of reasons to smile if you’re a Honda fan, as it seems they have found several improvements to the RC213V which have made an early impact. Johann Zarco (Castrol LCR Honda) is their top rider in P9, but he did his time attack on the new aero and wings they brought to Qatar. Luca Marini (Repsol Honda Team) requested improved downforce and the team have responded quickly. It also seems the Japanese brand have settled on their new engine while all four riders used the new, internally constructed swingarm.

Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™

Having claimed an opening day top 10, Tuesday will be an intense day according to Fabio Quartararo as the Yamaha star looks to find a way to make the M1 smoother and improve their grip on time attacks. That is the major issue facing the Iwata factory, and the 2021 World Champion believes they still have a lot of work to do to achieve that next step.

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