FIRST PICS | MotoGP returns as rookies join shakedown initiation test in Sepang

The five rookies that will make their premier class debut in the 2022 MotoGP World Championship hit the ground running with a shakedown test in Sepang

Fabio di Giannantonio - Gresini Ducati

The countdown to the 2022 MotoGP World Championship is well underway as the first turns of the year were completed by a handful of manufacturer test riders and the five rookies that will make their premier class debut this season.

The first of a three-day programme designed primarily for the newest wave of MotoGP racers to get up to speed before being joined by their more seasoned counterparts, the quintet of Raul Fernandez, Remy Gardner, Marco Bezzecchi, Fabio di Giannantonio and Darryn Binder were all getting acquainted with their more powerful machines.

Only their second time out on MotoGP machinery - but the first time utilising the 2022 specifications - it was Fernandez who ended the day quickest of all on the Tech 3 KTM, the Moto2 runner-up stopping the clock with a 2m 0.898s lap.

Just over 2.5secs down on Fabio Quartararo’s pole-winning lap from the last race to be held at Sepang in 2019, Fernandez led a trio of test riders in Michele Pirro (Ducati), Mika Kallio (KTM) and Lorenzo Savadori (Aprilia), with Tech 3 team-mate Remy Gardner completing the top five as he made a tentative return with his injured wrist.

Moony VR46 Ducati rider Bezzecchi followed up in sixth, with Binder seventh best and only 1.2secs off the top spot and ahead of Sylvain Guintoli on the Suzuki GSX-RR and the latter of the rookie contingent, di Giannantonio on the Gresini Ducati.

Dani Pedrosa was also present for KTM but didn’t activate his transponder, while Honda’s Stefan Bradl, plus Aprilia duo Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales - who can also join by virtue of their concessions for testing day allowances - chose to sit out the opening day.

2021 Sepang MotoGP Shakedown Test - Monday (FINAL)
1Raul FernandezSPAKTM Tech3 (RC16)*2m 0.898s
2Michele PirroITADucati Test Rider (GP)+0.144
3Mika KallioFINKTM Test Rider (RC16)+0.352s
4Lorenzo SavadoriITAAprilia Test Rider (RS-GP)+0.778s
5Remy GardnerAUSKTM Tech3 (RC16)*+0.954s
6Marco BezzecchiITAMooney VR46 Ducati (GP)*+1.114s
7Darryn BinderRSAWithU Yamaha RNF (YZR-M1)*+1.248s
8Sylvain GuintoliFRASuzuki Test Rider (GSX-RR)+1.283s
9Fabio Di GiannantonioITAGresini Ducati (GP)*+1.698s
10Yamaha Test2N/AYamaha Test Rider (YZR-M1)+2.544s
11Yamaha Test1N/AYamaha Test Rider (YZR-M1)+2.718s