A late charge from Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa saw him claim the fastest time on the final day of MotoGP testing at the tiny Spaniard’s 1’29.781 on his 77th lap of 78 was also enough to claim the overall laurels too.
Pedrosa had just enough pace on his penultimate effort to usurp Monster Yamaha’s Johann Zarco who had been sitting pretty on a 1’29.867 with Britain’s Cal Crutchlow in third place.
Valentino Rossi went some way to saving the factory Yamaha team’s blushes by creeping into the top ten with his last lap while Jorge Lorenzo - fastest at Sepang with a new lap record - had a shocking final day, finishing 22nd and 1.846s off the pace.
Reigning champion Marc Marquez suffered a small crash – just outside the realm of a super save – but the six-time king nevertheless pounded through another huge workload of laps. One innovation spotted on Sunday was a carbon swingarm, which was also used in Sepang and Valencia, but the biggest headline for the Japanese factory was the incredible pace. It bodes well ahead of the season opener, with Honda bidding to retain both the riders’ and constructors’ titles.
Zarco twice broke the 1’30 barrier toay, with his fastest effort a 1’29.867 before he called it a day some time before the end of the test, work completed. Zarco, who will be using the 2016 chassis on his Tech 3 machine this year, did 47 laps and was top Yamaha.
Fellow sophomore Alex Rins made it a clean sweep of impressive performances as the Spaniard ended the test in fifth overall. Despite a crash, Rins did another 66 laps on Sunday. Team-mate Andrea Iannone also ended the test positive but a little further down in 15th overall. The Hamamatsu factory brought a number of things to the test, including a previous aero fairing and two iterations of a new aero fairing, as well as chassis updates.
Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) was once again a star attraction on Sunday, and finished the test in sixth overall – only 0.007 off Rins ahead of him. The Australian has settled in incredibly quickly on the GP17, and team-mate Danilo Petrucci on the GP18 and Ducati test duty made it both Alma Pramac Racing machines in the top ten as he slotted into P9 on combined timesheets.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) was finished early today, with the track having proven more useful than expected during the hotter parts of the day and the Italian getting through the programme. He finished with 58 laps and seventh on combined timesheets after trying three aero fairings and comparing chassis updates. Lorenzo was 16th on combined times after a more difficult test than his domination of Sepang, comparing the GP18 and GP17 on the final day in Thailand.
Viñales ended Thailand in eighth overall, with a lap set on Saturday – when the Spaniard said the afternoon had seen them take a big step forward. But on Sunday, teammate Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) was quicker, P10 compared to Viñales’ twelfth place on the Day 3 timesheets. Rossi’s Sunday best was a 1’30.511 and the ‘Doctor’ set it on lap 69 of 70, but was P12 overall.
Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) was a big headline at the conclusion of today’s action. The Japanese rookie put in a 1’30.456 and took a stunning tenth overall – moving forward throughout the sessions and keeping himself top debutant. But Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) surged forward on the chase, moving up to 13th overall and just two tenths off. His teammate Tom Lüthi improved on Sunday too, having missed the available tracktime at the end of 2017, and did a 1’31.354.
Hafizh Syahrin (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) was the next rookie up, and the Malaysian got another 47 laps under his belt in his first ever MotoGP test. Just 0.183 off Lüthi, it was another impressive move forward for the first ever Malaysian in the premier class.
Tito Rabat (Reale Avinta Racing) took P11 overall as he was another who is settling into life on a Ducati well, just ahead of Rossi and Morbidelli. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) was fourteenth and top Noale factory machine, with the timesheets incredibly tight, as teammate Scott Redding also moved forward on Day 3.
Bradley Smith (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and KTM test rider Mika Kallio also made progress with their pace on Sunday, but with so much to test, time attacks weren’t high on the agenda. One headline-grabber for the Austrian factory on the final day was a new aero fairing, and Smith fulfilled the target of getting into the 1:30 bracket with a 1’30.921.