Quartararo takes lead in Malaysia MotoGP first day test

3 min

Sepang (Malaysia) (AFP)

French rider Fabio Quartararo took first place at the MotoGP pre-season test Friday, zipping past his opponents' best times on the first day of Malaysia's Sepang test circuit.

Powering to victory on an initially hot day, the 20-year-old recorded his quickest lap time of 1min 58.945sec, beating 25 other riders to the punch on a 2019 YZR-M1 Yamaha.

"It was the plan to ride the 2019 bikes (today)," Quartararo told reporters after the test.

"But of course ... I'm looking at my phone every hour to try the new one and have for the first time the feeling of the new one."

The Frenchman said this after the Petronas Yamaha SRT racing team unveiled the 2020 MotoGP season bikes on Thursday.

"I expect because first of all it's a different engine than the 2019 bikes. Looks like the bike has a little bit more top speed -- the new one -- but the chassis we don't know," he said.

Steady rain starting at about 2:30pm pulled the bikes off the track for nearly two hours before the test resumed.

The former rookie finished fifth last year in the overall race standings after making his debut MotoGP campaign with Yamaha.

He is expected to replace seven-time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi at Yamaha in the 2021 season, as the Italian legend is expected to make a decision on his future some time this year.

Quartararo's finish Friday came within a whisker of his Yamaha teammate Franco Morbidelli who clocked in at second place at 1min 58.996sec.

A mere 0.051 seconds slower, the Italian was the only other rider in the test to breach the 1:59-minute mark, pushing the Spanish Alex Rins down to third at 1min 59.195sec.

England's Cal Crutchlow came in fourth on his Honda at 1min 59.234sec, with Australian Jack Miller following on his Ducati to clock a best time of 1min 59.236sec.

Maverick Vinales posted 1min 59.367sec with his Yamaha at sixth.

The Spanish Espargaro brothers zoomed in after with the older Aleix taking seventh place, logging his best lap at 1min 59.427sec, with the younger Pol coming in 0.109 seconds later at 1min 59.536sec.

The official first pre-season test runs from Friday to Sunday at the Sepang circuit.

The season will start in Qatar on March 8.

Pre-season MotoGP test times on Friday at the Sepang circuit (5.543 km):

1. Fabio Quartararo (FRA/Yamaha) 1min 58.945sec, 2. Franco Morbidelli (ITA/Yamaha) at 0.051sec, 3. Alex Rins (SPA/Suzuki) at 0.250, 4. Cal Crutchlow (GBR/Honda) at 0.289, 5. Jack Miller (AUS/Ducati) at 0.291, 6. Maverick Vinales (SPA/Yamaha) at 0.422, 7. Aleix Espargaro (ITA/Aprilia) at 0.482, 8. Pol Espargaro (SPA/KTM) at 0.591, 9. Joan Mir (SPA/Suzuki) at 0.623, 10. Valentino Rossi (ITA/Yamaha) at 0.624