Qatar Test analysis: who's in the best shape ahead of Round 1?

We delve into the longer run lap time sheets to see what the final day of pre-season testing in Lusail showed us as we gear up for Round 1 of 2024

2024 MotoGP™ pre-season testing is in the history books and of all the noteworthy topics to dive into - there are many - from the five Official Test days on track is the long run pace analysis from the Qatar Test. 

Not all riders did long runs, but most strung at least seven laps together to give us a little indication as to how they're shaping up for Saturday and Sunday afternoons in the Tissot Sprints and races. So, let's have a look at a selection of riders to see what pace they were boasting at the Lusail International Circuit. 

The two fastest: Bagnaia and Espargaro 

  Best Average No. of laps
Bagnaia 1:51.850 1:52.430 7
Espargaro 1:51.931 1:52.106 7


The sample size may not be that big for Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing), but their short stints were very impressive. Pecco's 1:53.262 came at the end of his run, with that time being just over 0.7s slower than his next worst time, while Espargaro showed fantastic consistency to lap in the high 1:51s for two laps and the low 1:52s for five laps. 

If you were to jump to conclusions following the Qatar Test, then the Ducati and Aprilia duo are the riders to beat in the Tissot Sprint. 

The 22-lap stint: Binder

  Best Average No. of laps
Binder 1:52.859 1:53.224 22


The only rider to complete a race-distance effort was Red Bull KTM Factory Racing's Brad Binder. And it was consistent too. Binder clocked three laps in the high 1:52s in his first nine laps, then spent the rest of his race simulation in the low 1:53s. It's a shame we can't directly compare the South African's effort to other 22-lap stints, but of the riders who did well over half race distance, Binder was the quickest. 

14 laps or more: Viñales, Nakagami, Alex Marquez, Acosta & Marini

  Best Average No. of laps
Viñales 1:52.710 1:53.322 17
Nakagami 1:53.197 1:53.544 14
Alex Marquez 1:52.843 1:53.693 18
Acosta 1:53.187 1:53.710 18
Marini 1:53.679 1:53.840 14


Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) and rookie Pedro Acosta (Red Bull GASGAS Tech3) were the two riders who came closest to logging a full race distance run, with Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) also just a handful of laps short.

For Acosta to be lapping at a similar pace to Alex Marquez in Qatar is another sign that the #31 will be right in the mix from the get-go this season. One thing to note with all the times is tyre life and fuel loads are potentially different, but Acosta's race pace is very promising nevertheless.  

Viñales' run included nine 1:52s, with the last one - a 1:52.905 - coming on his 15th lap. Couple that with Espargaro's shorter stint and the factory Aprilia riders look like they're in good qualifying, Sprint and race trim ahead of Round 1. 

Takaaki Nakagami's (Castrol Honda LCR) 14-lap outing was quite impressive, with the Japanese rider demonstrating Honda have undoubtedly made a sizeable leap forward from 2023 to 2024. Nakagami's last four laps in his long run flip-flopped between the 1:53.2 and 1:53.3 bracket, just a tenth or two away from his best lap of the run, and while Luca Marini (Repsol Honda Team) couldn't get down to the low 1:53s, the Italian's pace didn't fluctuate much either. Maybe that's a sign the RC213V is kind on the tyres? 

Fast, but not quite the fastest: Di Giannantonio, Bastianini, Bezzecchi & Quartararo

  Best Average No. of laps
Di Giannantonio 1:52.320 1:52.533 11
Bastianini 1:52.016 1:52.541 10
Bezzecchi 1:52.575 1:52.951 9
Quartararo 1:52.551 1:53.042 10


Fabio Di Giannantonio (Pertamina Enduro VR46 Racing Team) has arguably gone under the radar in pre-season testing. Understandably, plenty of attention has been focused on the likes of Bagnaia, Marc Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™), Acosta and the new parts each factory has brought to the table, but the new VR46 recruit is in great shape ahead of lights out in Qatar. 

Of Di Giannantonio's 11 laps, seven were below the 1:52.5 marker. Only one lap was a 1:53 - a 1:53.020 - and on the next and last lap of his run, the #49 set a 1:52.472. Not bad at all. 

After a luckless 2023, Enea Bastianini looks like he's singing his 2022 tune again as 'The Beast' enjoyed a successful pre-season. Bastianini's pace was very similar to Di Giannantonio's in the comparable runs the Italians did, with Marco Bezzecchi (Pertamina Enduro VR46 Racing Team) not quite able to match his compatriots. 

As we know, race pace isn't the area Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™ are worried about heading into 2024. Extracting more from a new soft rear tyre is top of their agenda, but away from that, Fabio Quartararo laid down a decent set of laps in his 10-lap outing. 

The Frenchman set six 1:52s before his last four laps were all in the 1:53s, his final lap being a 1:53.649. The best part of a second between Quartararo's best and worst laps isn't ideal, but we don't know how much life the tyres had in them. What we do know is if El Diablo can stick in the 1:52s for a few more laps then he'll be towards to meaty end of the points. 

Take the times with a pinch of salt

Delving into the lap time analysis sheets is always interesting when comparing riders against each other. However, as stated about the tyres and fuel loads, take the timesheets with a pinch of salt. Conclusions can be drawn about who's looking in the best shape and who has work to do, but it could all change come Saturday and Sunday in Qatar. 

Testing is one thing, racing is another. We can't wait to see how Round 1 unfolds under the Lusail lights from the 8th to the 10th of March.