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Sepang MotoGP Test Results Point to Continued Ducati Dominance

Luca Marini – Photos courtesy VR46 Racing Team

Imagine having a motorcycle racing career while being known as “Valentino Rossi’s little brother.” That’s what Luca Marini has dealt with. This young man has proven he deserves his position in MotoGP, nonetheless.

Marini led the timesheets after three days of testing at the Sepang circuit ending today. He was 1/10th of a second from breaking the lap record. Of course, Marini was aboard a Ducati representing Valentino’s VR46 Racing Team.

Indeed, the Ducatis appear as solid as ever atop the pecking order of prototype machines contesting the MotoGP championship. With 7 Ducati riders finishing the test in the top 10 lap times, we might be poised for a repeat of the second half of the championship series in 2022, where Ducatis largely competed with each other for podiums and wins.

Interestingly, another Italian manufacturer now looks like a primary competitor for Ducati. Aprilia took the 3rd and 6th positions in combined lap times with factory riders Maverick Viñales and Aleix Espargaró. The Aprilias looked fast, consistent and competitive throughout the test. This includes the new Aprilia satellite RNF Team riders, including rookie Raul Fernandez and former KTM Factory rider Miguel Oliveira.

Yamaha is still on the back foot with Fabio Quartararo finishing with the 17th quickest time and openly complaining that his single lap qualifying speed is a “disaster.” Qualifying will be more important than ever with two race grids forming each weekend, including for the new sprint race on Saturday.

Multi-time champ Marc Marquez (Honda) finished with the 10th quickest lap time … just slower than his younger brother Alex, who is now on a Ducati.

Take a look here for combined times for the three-day practice at Sepang. The next, and final pre-season test will be held at Portimao beginning on March 10. The first race is also at Portimao on March 26.


  1. Thad Stelly says:

    Luca has access to the best advice along with the consistency of spending his entire MotoGP career segment on the same bike. A Dark Horse no doubt.

  2. Mick says:

    One has to wonder if there are a few things that were not tested. Come to this test with something fast and Ducati works harder. Give them seven of the top ten spots and they don’t look to fix what ain’t broke.

    Ducati seems to have set a fairly high bar. Perhaps their competition would like them to leave that bar more or less where it is right now.

  3. Tommy D says:

    Ducati has worked really hard to get to this point. They deserve the credit for their dominating performance. I also predict that the early season races will have be a bunch of satellite Ducati riders jostling like Moto3 riders at the end of the closing laps. Later on in the season the factory riders will get the choice parts and it will aid them to land the Championship again. About as predictable as Patrick Mahomes winning the Superbowl in State Farm Stadium.

  4. dt-175 says:

    i wonder if graziano gives marini pointers when luca rides at the ranch.

  5. PABLO66 says:

    I hope this won’t be a repeat of last year with almost complete domination by the Ducs & the Japanese manufacturers factory & satellite team riders whining & complaining about their bikes ,the Japanese just can’t seem to step up & match the ducs @ present ,hopefully in the next two mnths they can sort out their problems as it makes the whole MOTO-GP way more fun to watch to have a more competitive and level playing field

    • Nathan says:

      I’d hardly say Ducati dominated last yr. They were way down on ( rider ) points at the halfway mark. The only reason they won the championship is because Fabio couldn’t maintain the ludicrous levels of effort it took to make the Yamaha go fast. Personally, I think MotoGP has been MUCH better the past 2 yrs without Marquez around. Who cares if Ducati is dominating the top 10, its different riders on top of the podium, not just the same one over and over, as has been the case in the past. You go in to every race weekend not knowing who is going to win, and that’s significantly more entertaining.
      The fact that Honda has struggled so badly is almost too good to believe. It makes me almost giddy. I’m not sure if I get more enjoyment watching the small factories excel or watching Honda flounder and fall on its face. The only thing that could make it better would be for that arrogant d-bag Puig to get fired and run out of the sport.
      On a side note related to Fabio, he knew what he had with Yamaha and still chose to re-up with them. He’s the most talented rider on the grid and signing on with Yamaha is going to waste all of it. Riding at 110% every session and every race is not sustainable, as was proven last season. He should have gone to one of the Euro manufacturers.

      • TimC says:

        You make a good point. People griped that the Porsche 962 won so much in the 80s but this did mean many teams had a shot at doing so, and did in fact.

      • Dave says:

        “On a side note related to Fabio, he knew what he had with Yamaha and still chose to re-up with them. ”

        He’s 23 and in 4 years on the Yamaha he’s finished 5th, 8th, 1st, and 2nd. Staying with Yamaha means he gets fed first. Yamaha will get it figured out and he’ll again be a protagonist for the championship. Honda/Marquez too.

        • Nathan says:

          He won by pushing a bad bike beyond its limit, that 2021 bike had no business running at the front of the pack. He wasn’t able to do that for a full two yrs in a row and won’t be able to do it this year either. If he had signed with a Euro team he most definitely would have been at the top of the pecking order. The Japanese seem stuck in the old ways of thinking, reacting ( slowly ) to the new things the Euros are willing to try instead of thinking more creatively on their own. They cry ( especially Honda ) when they’re outsmarted and can’t figure out how to do what others are doing ( Eg. adaptive suspension ), but that’s not going to get them back to the front. Unless they start to think like the Euro teams, they will continue to fall further behind.

          • Dave says:

            That’s an exaggeration. Look at the individual results for last season and you’ll see that while his performance deteriorated at the end of the season, he was still more consistent than anyone other than Pecco and fewer DNF’s than all but a couple of riders in the top-10 (including Pecco), even through the rough patch.

            He finished closer in points to Pecco than Bastaini did to him.

            The bike was pretty bad. All 4 Yamaha’s used to consistently finish in the top-10 in the points, when it was undeniably the best bike (sometimes lacking the best rider..). Now Fabio is the only one who can do anything with it, kind of like Honda (Marquez) and Ducati (Stoner) have been at times.

          • Nathan says:

            You say it’s an exaggeration then admit the bike was pretty bad… Cant have it both ways. I’m essentially using his own words. Watch the qualifying for every race, and listen to his comments along with the narration of the commentators ( particularly Crafar ). His results were based on him being on the ragged edge of crashing in order to be anywhere near the front. Even Lin Jarvis stated on multiple occasions that Fabio was having to push too hard to get results. I’m not bashing Fabio, I’m empathizing with him, and lamenting that his unique talent is likely to be wasted on a crap Yamaha.

  6. Jeremy says:

    Testing often doesn’t tell us much simply because they are, well, testing. But seven Ducatis, two Aprilias, and a lone Honda in the top 10 make it hard not to start drawing conclusions.

  7. Rae says:

    It appears that Fabio will be struggling even more to remain relevant Too bad, but Yamaha doesn’t seem willing/able to provide him with the equipment necessary for him to contend.

    Sounds like the races will largely be various Ducati teams jousting for the podium. . .

  8. pablo66 says:

    I hope this won’t be a repeat of last year with almost complete domination by the Ducs & the Japanese manufacturers factory & satellite team riders whining & complaining about their bikes ,they just can’t seem to step up & match the ducs @ present ,hopefully in the next two mnths they can sort out their problems as it makes MOTO-GP way more fun to watch.

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