Luca Marini was the man to beat at Valencia’s Tuesday MotoGP test as he set the afternoon pace on the Mooney VR46 Ducati.
A 1’30.032 sealed the deal for the Italian ahead of Aprilia’s Maverick Viñales and fellow Academy rider Marco Bezzecchi. The pair a quarter of a second adrift as the eight-hour test drew to a close.
With Aprilia having locked out the standings for the morning action, the afternoon saw Marini take control as he continued to fine-tune his Desmosedici. The Mooney rider the sole Ducati man not receiving a change of machinery for next year. Teammate Bezzecchi joined him on the GP22 in fourth with his 54th effort before Marini bettered his own target on lap 70.
A smokey five minutes found Brad Binder investigating an issue with his RC-16 as the penultimate hour got underway, new garage partner Jack Miller heading out to tail the South African as they worked in unison from the outset of their new season.
Miguel Oliveira split the factory Aprilia pairing of Maverick Viñales and Aleix Espargaro as he swept his RNF RS-GP to third with 90 minutes left on the clock. The trio all running 1’30.3 pace as Fabio Di Giannantonio placed the Gresini ahead of Marc Marquez’ Repsol Honda in ninth and tenth.
Bezzecchi joined Marini for a VR46 one-two with his 62nd lap of the day. Alex Marquez trailing his elder brother by 0.036s in 11th with KTM’s Miller and Binder close behind. The number 33 rose to sixth overall with just over an hour left of proceedings, and just under half a second adrift of the outright best, while a frustrated Marc Marquez packed up early issuing a warning shot to HRC with the statement: “With this bike we cannot win the world championship”.
A late crash found Enea Bastianini in the gravel at turn six, after pushing hard to advance from ninth in the standings. Di Giannantonio improving to sixth as the final hour counted down with Monster Energy Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo claiming ninth from the Ducati trio of Bastianini, Johann Zarco and Pecco Bagnaia.
The closing half an hour allowed Vinales to return to the runner-up position with a 1’30.257, denying the VR46 outfit a standings lock out. The Spaniard and both factory Yamaha’s continuing to circulate as the sun began to set with LCR’s Alex Rins the final rider on track as it fell quiet.
Oliveira maintained best of the rest behind the leading trio after a promising rookie showing at RNF, Aprilia’s title challenger Espargaro fifth despite packing up early having dispatched 56 laps. Di Giannantonio sat sixth from Binder, Jorge Martin and Quartararo. Bastianini remaining in charge of the Ducati duo of Zarco and Bagnaia, with Morbidelli splitting the Marquez brothers, in chronological order, from the back of the top 15.
Pol Espargaro completed his first day back at KTM seven tenths off the overall target in 16th, with Miller narrowly behind as he too got up to speed with the RC-16. Joan Mir’s first taste of the Repsol Honda concluded in 18th ahead of factory colleagues Takaaki Nakagami and Alex Rins with Raul and Augusto Fernandez completing the full-time set ahead of Michele Pirro.