MotoGP Sepang test: Petrucci smashes unofficial record on final day

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Danilo Petrucci smashed the unofficial MotoGP Sepang lap record on the final day of pre-season testing at the Malaysian circuit, heading a Ducati 1-2-3-4.

The Italian’s 1m58.239s lap was almost six tenths better than the previous record, which was set by his Ducati predecessor Jorge Lorenzo at last year’s winter test.

Petrucci logged the new benchmark towards the end of the session’s opening hour.

He subsequently had a crash at Turn 5, destroying the new aero fairing Ducati had debuted on the day.

Moto2 champion Pecco Bagnaia was just 0.063 seconds slower than Petrucci on his Pramac-run 2018-spec Ducati.

His Pramac team-mate Jack Miller was another six hundredths slower and crashed his GP19 bike late on, while Andrea Dovizioso completed the all-Ducati top four, three tenths off Petrucci.

Like Ducati, Yamaha also debuted a new fairing on Friday and its ranks were once again headed by Maverick Vinales.

The Thursday pacesetter was first to surpass Lorenzo’s previous track record on the final day, but ultimately wound up best of the rest behind the Italian bikes in fifth.

LCR rider Cal Crutchlow led Honda’s efforts in sixth and was the last rider to dip below Lorenzo’s previous benchmark.

Aleix Espargaro was seventh for Aprilia, while Andrea Iannone continued to struggle with an infection and skipped the day entirely, replaced by tester Bradley Smith.

After finishing behind rookie team-mate Fabio Quartararo on Thursday, Petronas SRT Yamaha rider Franco Morbidelli was back ahead on the final day, taking eighth place to Quartararo’s 16th.

Takaaki Nakagami was ninth for LCR, ahead of Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi and Honda’s reigning champion Marc Marquez, who again ended his programme early but finished two places clear of Lorenzo’s stand-in Stefan Bradl.

Suzuki’s Alex Rins was only 12th after claiming runner-up spot on the first two days, while his rookie team-mate Joan Mir was 15th and a mere 0.001s behind the Avintia Ducati of Tito Rabat.

Johann Zarco led the KTM contingent in 17th, ahead of factory team-mate Pol Espargaro and the satellite KTM RC16 of Tech3 rookie Miguel Oliveira.

The MotoGP field will reconvene in Qatar for the final pre-season test later this month, before the 2019 season starts at the same venue on March 10.

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