Mooney VR46’s Luca Marini was back on top of 2023 MotoGP testing as he concluded the final day at Sepang with a 1’57.889 lap.
It was the second time since racing concluded that the satellite Ducati rider was firmly in charge of the times, having commanded the Valencia test back in November. His confidence on the GP22 Desmosedici increasing after a full testing schedule and a sprint race simulation was successfully dispatched on Sunday afternoon.
“I think it was a really fantastic test,’ Marini exclaimed from the Sepang paddock at the close of day three. “Perfect day today. We try everything that we have in the programme, and the sprint race simulation went very well.
“I'm really satisfied about the feeling in these ten laps, for sure will be different with all the other riders because in the sprint race I expect not to ride as easy as today, alone, with your lines. Will be more of a fight I think but the feeling with the bike today is improved a lot. We worked very well and also in the lap time at the end of the day was a very good lap.
“I try many specs and it's important to make experience for sure,” he said of the GP22. “Now I know very well the Ducati DNA, and I really, really like it. I think that now I can use all the potential of the bike.
“This year we are working in a good direction, improving from our mistakes from last year and I think we are ready to fight for good positions and for the podium in all the races.
“But for sure also the other manufacturers are really strong this year and the other Ducati riders are on the top of the list of title contenders.”
With seven Ducati riders dominating the test’s top ten, and the factory GP23 already making imposing steps - Pecco Bagnaia was just 0.08s shy of his countryman with Enea Bastianini and Jorge Martin locking out the top five, less than three tenths adrift - the Bologna competition seems unyielding this season on both this and last season’s machinery.
“Worried is not the correct word but sure I think that will be like this,” he admitted of his rivals in red. “We need to be clever and smart in the first races. Try to use our experience in every weekend in the first part of the season.
“Speaking with Pecco, he told me that today they made a huge step forward and they are already there, close to the perfection of the bike of last season when he won the championship. So they are there also now but anyway, I think my bike has a very good potential.”