Aleix Espargaro led the way for Aprilia at the end of day one of the opening test of the 2021 MotoGP season in Qatar ahead of Shakedown leader Stefan Bradl.
Espargaro got the best possible start for the upgraded RS-GP with a session leading 1:54.687 the Spaniard posted during the early evening, a time 0.256 clear of the factory Honda of Bradl-the duo completing 57 and 54 laps across the days running respectively.
The German sat upon the head of the timesheets at the mid-point of the day, his 1:54.943 still enough to keep him second by the end of play ahead of reigning premier class world champion Joan Mir’s Suzuki.
Jack Miller led the Ducati brigade in fourth overall ahead of Miguel Oliveira’s official KTM machine, while Johann Zarco’s Pramac-run Desmosedici managed sixth overall.
Alex Rins was eighth quickest on the second Suzuki GSX-RR ahead of Maverick Vinales’ factory Yamaha, while LCR Honda’s Alex Marquez completed a top ten that included all six manufacturers involved in the pinnacle of grand prix motorcycle racing.
Marquez didn’t get the best start after crashing at the final corner on his eighth tour of the day, though the ’19 Moto2 world champion was unhurt and was back out on track later on.
Francesco Bagnaia also tasted the tarmac before the lunch break, the Italian dropping his factory Ducati at Turn 3, though like Marquez he was able to escape injury and end the day 13th overall.
Valentino Rossi ended the opening day of official pre-season testing in 14th as he starts life with new team Sepang Racing Team, the seven-time premier class world champion shading factory Yamaha replacement Fabio Quartararo on the leaderboard- a second covering the top 15 riders.
Pol Espargaro achieved a session-high 68 laps of the Losail International Circuit as he worked through his first day of running with the factory Honda outfit, the ’13 Moto2 world champion ending the day 17th overall and 1.191s down on Espargaro’s leading Aprilia.
Rookie Avintia pairing Enea Bastianini and Luca Marini enjoyed a quiet day’s running as they continue to get up to speed in the premier class, the former ending the day 20th overall while the latter managed 24th just behind the Tech 3 KTM of Danilo Petrucci.