On Friday’s opening day of testing it was an SRT Yamaha 1-2 but this morning Suzuki stole the early headlines with Joan Mir dropping in a 1m58.731 on his 11th lap of the session.
Team-mate Alex Rins joined him in the 58s a short time later, a 1m58.978 to the #42 Suzuki.
A 1m58.989 from Pol Espargaro on his third lap of the session signals a hugely encouraging step forward for KTM as that time is almost a full-second quicker than he managed in qualifying at Sepang only three-months ago.
But stealing the limelight at the top of the charts was Pramac Ducati’s Jack Miller. The Australian’s 1m58.641 on his 15th lap of the morning held sway at the top of the table for quite some time.
Franco Morbidelli put in a 1m58.831 as the day approached its third hour to go P3, splitting the two Suzuki riders.
Vinales then joined those riders in the 58s with a 1m58.893 to go fourth quickest, just behind Morbidelli but now in front of Rins and Pol Espargaro.
With just over half an hour to run for the day Fabio Quartararo decided to drop a quick one in and went top with a 1m58.572. He completed that lap on the 2020 Yamaha.
Only minutes later KTM test rider Dani Pedrosa went third quickest after recording the fastest ever lap of Sepang by the KTM RC16. Pol Espargaro ended the day in P8, also in the 58s.
Pedrosa’s time had come on a new rear tyre specification from Michelin that he was testing, and is claimed by the French rubber manufacturer to be worth a few tenths over the tyres that most riders used today.
Marc Marquez has been nursing his shoulder somewhat after recent surgery but lost the front today at the very fast turn three and crashed but is reportedly uninjured. He finished today P9 and his mechanics will have a long night ahead of them.
With the top eight riders all in the 58s that signifies that most of the manufacturers have made significant steps forwards for 2020 already. All six manufacturers are in the top 11.
However, we need to mention that still nobody has threatened the 1m58.239 set at the Sepang Test last year by Danilo Petrucci (Link). Here in 2019 it was a Ducati 1-2-3-4 at the Sepang Test, and that entire quartet went faster than Quartaro lapped today. So far this week though out of the Desmosedici riders it is only Miller that has dipped into the 58s.
Sunday will be the final day of the test and a lot more riders will be keen to finish their evaluation workload and try to put in a really fast lap time to end the week on a high note. Many eyes will also be on Jorge Lorenzo tomorrow when he rides the YZR-M1 in his new test role with Yamaha.
MCNEWS.COM.AU is a specialist on-line resource that provides motorcycle news for motorcyclists. MCNews covers all areas of interest for the motorcycling public including news, reviews and comprehensive racing coverage.