Jorge Lorenzo topped the timesheets on the final day of MotoGP testing in Malaysia on Tuesday, emerging as the fastest-ever MotoGP rider at the Sepang circuit on a crash-filled day. Despite a crash on turn 15, Spaniard Lorenzo a three-time MotoGP winner set a stunning 1min 58.830sec just before noon on a dry track riding a Ducati. That annihilates the unofficial all-time lap record of 1min 58.867sec set by Honda’s Marc Marquez during the 2015 pre-season testing. The fastest official lap, during a race weekend, is the 1min 59.053sec set by Marquez’s teammate Dani Pedrosa in 2015.
Lorenzo, who begins his second season with the Italian team, has said the new Ducati bike was more suited to his riding style. Ducati team manager Davide Tardozzi said the 2018 championship will be competitive season. “We are happy with the Ducati machine. We try to make the engine smoother and less aggressive. This what the riders requested all of last year,” he said.
Lorenzo’s teammate and last year’s runner-up Andrea Dovizioso crashed on turn 1 and his bike got stuck in the gravel trap, but the Italian was unhurt and came charging back to clock 1min 59.052sec to finish fourth fastest. Other riders that went down included Frenchman Johann Zarco on a Yamaha, Spaniard Tito Rabat (Ducati) and Swiss rider Tom Luthi riding a Honda.
All the riders escaped unhurt. The final day was incredible tight with the top seven riders split by just 0.5 seconds. Pedrosa clocked 1min 59.009sec to finish second while British rider Cal Crutchlow on a carbon-black Honda was third 0.222 seconds off the pace. Marquez, who had expressed doubts over Honda’s new aero fairing, registered 1min 59.348sec to finish seventh.
Nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi, MotoGP’s oldest rider at 38, logged 1min 59.449sec and was eighth quickest. The Italian is expected to sign another two-year contract with Yamaha after this season. The teams will now head to Buriram, Thailand, for the maiden test from February 16-18. The final 2018 pre-season test will be at Qatar’s Losail International Circuit for three days from March 1. This year will be the first time that GP motorcycle racing will feature 19 rounds, starting on March 18 in Losail.