Who was really quickest of all in MotoGP testing?

MotoGP testing may have seen Fabio Quartararo dominate the timesheets but lap times over a race distance told another story

Alex Rins - Suzuki Ecstar

Fabio Quartararo’s name dominated the top of the timesheets on all three days of the official pre-season MotoGP test at Sepang, but as was the case during the second half of last season his single lap performance didn’t quite reflect the all-important race pace.

With six pole positions to his name in 2019, Quartararo has quickly proven himself to be remarkably adept at extracting superb single lap performance from the Petronas SRT Yamaha.

Upgraded to the factory-spec M1 for the 2020 MotoGP season, the young Frenchman demonstrated similarly eye-catching form against the stopwatch on all three days of testing.

However, to date Quartararo is yet to win a race and based on the long stint pace conducted over the three days, it seems there is still some work to do for him to get on terms with the best in the field as his wasn’t one of two names regularly highlighted as most impressive over a race distance.

Instead, Maverick Vinales and Alex Rins were the individuals considered quickest on longer runs according to data sourced by our sister publication Crash.net, in this case able to lap consistently in the 1min 59s.

"On a race tyre, race setup, we did a good pace, which I felt quite competitive,” Vinales said. “When I did the [long] run, the grip was very low. I saw most of the riders in 2m 0s, and they could not go lower than that…"

Rins added: “We've been very fast in the morning but also very consistent, while comparing the different chassis. All the laps in the 1m 59. I'm quite happy because we improved both my best lap time and the race pace."

The results perhaps shouldn’t come as a surprise given Vinales and Rins are both known for their super smooth riding styles that preserve their tyres, albeit sometimes at the behest of their race performances.

Indeed, Vinales has often lost races because of slow starts to a race and though he comes on strong in the latter half, has often left himself with too much to do. Meanwhile, Rins has regularly made strong gains on Sundays after qualifying far down the order.

Even so, Marc Marquez – whose long stint strategies were hampered by recovery from a shoulder surgery – and Andrea Dovizioso were both impressed by Vinales and Rins.

"If you check the pace everyone is running in the '59s today,” Marquez said. “But Rins did a really good job. Viñales, too, on the race pace. Rins and Viñales are the two fastest ones.”

Dovizioso added: “I think what we can see from the test is Maverick really strong in the simulation, Rins really comfortable. And we are not that far."

Who else was quick at the MotoGP test?

Another name that came up was Aleix Espargaro, who gave the new Aprilia RS-GP an eye-catching debut by proving consistently quick over several laps, as well as fast enough to turn in top ten single lap times too. The man himself thinks he was around fourth quickest on longer runs.

"I lose two or three tenths every time in the fourth split against the Ducatis – even like this I did the strongest 12-14 lap race simulation. Better than the Ducatis, better than what Quartararo did."

Danilo Petrucci agreed: “I think Maverick and Marc did another type of work and I think they are two of the fastest riders. Also Espargaro - both Espargaros unfortunately! - are very fast. Rins, Quartararo... There are a lot of riders able to ride more than ten laps in the '59 and we are struggling to keep this pace."

While there is only so much you can take away from testing at this stage in the year, Dovizioso continues that there is something to be read into Yamaha and Suzuki’s preparations, adding that their pace ‘worries’ him.

“From what I feel from the tyre, I think it can help a bit more the bikes which can make a bit more speed in the middle of the corners. But this is my feeling.

“I’m not sure about that. Still I didn’t ride with them. And still I think there is a lot of work to do for everybody so I don’t know how much margin there is from us and from the competitors.”