MotoGP Valencia Test: Vinales heads the pack at lunchtime

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Aprilia was firmly in the fight as preparations for 2023 got underway at Valencia with Maverick Viñales heading Aleix Espargaro on 1’30 pace.

Less than 48 hours after the climax of the 2022 season, 2023 preparations got underway in Valencia with a one day test at Ricardo Tormo.

Riders and teams swapped colours and machinery as the eighth-hour track action fired up on Tuesdays. The now-disbanded Suzuki team scattered across the paddock with Joan Mir and Alex Rins both taking up positions at HRC - Mir at Repsol Honda alongside Marc Marquez, with Alex Rins at LCR with Takaaki Nakagami - while crew chiefs Frankie Carchedi and Jose Manuel Cazeaux headed to Gresini and Aprilia respectively - the latter resurrecting his previous working relationship with Viñales which saw the Spaniard on the podium at Silverstone back in 2016.

Prima Pramac’s Johann Zarco led the initial times with a 1’30.626 as the work began. Aprilia’s Viñales and Aleix Espargaro hitting 2023 running from second and fourth respectively with Mooney VR46’s Luca Marini splitting the pair in third. Miguel Oliveira was the highest placed rider swapping machinery as he got to grips with the Crypto RNF Aprilia from 11th in the opening standings, Alex Marquez beginning life in Gresini Ducati colours four places behind.

Jorge Martin took over from his teammate after 28 laps around Circuit Ricardo Tormo before Viñales took charge with five and a half hours to go. Enea Bastianini was instantly up to speed on his factory Desmosedici and circulating sixth after just seven laps of action with new teammate, and new World Champion Pecco Bagnaia taking a more leisurely approach from ninth.

Fabio Di Giannantonio seemed to be enjoying his promotion to the Gresini GP22 as he set laps just adrift of the top ten, and in the midst of the Monster Energy Yamahas of Franky Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo. The Italians circulated 10th and 11th ahead of the outgoing title holder, with Pol Espargaro’s return to KTM, aboard the Tech3 GasGas, kicking off narrowly behind.

As the lunch break beckoned, Viñales’ 1’30.325 headed the standings 0.073s from Aprilia teammate Aleix Espargaro with a quartet of Ducatis, in the form of Martin, Bastianini, Marini and Zarco, completing the top six. Marquez sat seventh, and already back in civvies after dispatching 31 laps and his morning running early, while VR46’s Marco Bezzecchi, Oliveira and former KTM teammate Brad Binder rounded out the top ten.

Quartararo sat seven tenths from his former teammate’s best effort, in 11th, with the younger of the Marquez and Espargaro brothers 12th and 13th on their respective new steeds. 28 laps of testing found Bagnaia 14th from Nakagami, Morbidelli and Di Giannantonio with Mir and Jack Miller getting to grips with the Repsol RC213V and KTM RC-16 from 18th and 19th. Raul Fernandez began his Aprilia RNF journey from the edge of the top 20 and a tenth ahead of Rins, while Augusto Fernandez’ first taste of the premier class saw him 1.9s off the outright pace with 49 laps under his belt on the Tech3 GasGas. Michael Pirro was the sole test rider to take to the Spanish track on Tuesday, having prepared the factory bikes for both Bastianini and Bagnaia in the opening hour.

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