Enea Bastianini, the Italian dynamo from Ducati Lenovo Team, has just rewritten the records at the Sepang International Circuit (SIC) during the 2024 Sepang Official Test.
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With a lightning-fast lap time of 1:57.134s, Bastianini unofficially claims the title of the fastest MotoGP rider to conquer the 5.543-kilometer track. The 26-year-old’s remarkable feat on the penultimate lap of the second day of testing today not only showcases his prowess but also underscores Ducati’s dominance on the circuit.
Earlier in the day, it was Jorge Martin of Prima Pramac Racing who shook things up by setting a blistering pace of 1:57.273s, surpassing Pecco Bagnaia’s official race-day record from last year’s Malaysian Grand Prix. However, it was Bastianini who stole the spotlight later, coming tantalizingly close to breaching the 1:56 mark before a minor hiccup on the 47th lap.
Following closely behind Bastianini’s thunderous performance are Brad Binder of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, Aleix Espargaro of Aprilia Racing, and reigning world champion Francesco Bagnaia from Ducati. Each of these riders showcased their mettle by clocking lap times faster than Bagnaia’s record from the previous year, setting the stage for an electrifying season ahead.
Speaking to the media after his exhilarating run, Bastianini expressed his confidence in the new aerodynamic setup and fairing, crediting them for his improved performance. With a grin, he shared, “For me, 80 per cent of the track feels better with the new setup. The machine is faster with the new fairing and exhaust. But we’ll need to tweak the throttle a bit—it’s feeling a tad strange. Overall, it’s really promising.”
Reflecting on his progress since last season, Bastianini, affectionately known as The Beast, remarked, “I’m feeling more confident than last year. Everything was new to me in 2023—the bike, the team, the workings of the team. But now, I feel like I know the ropes better, and today’s performance speaks volumes.”
Meanwhile, Martin, despite a strong start with the old fairings, faced challenges in maintaining pace after switching to the new setup. Nonetheless, he remains optimistic about finding the right balance and is eager to fine-tune his approach for the remainder of the testing period.
As the three-day winter test draws to a close, anticipation mounts for the final pre-season testing in Qatar at the Lusail International Circuit from Feb 19-20. The countdown to the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix from March 7-9 has begun, promising fans an adrenaline-fueled spectacle.
While the action heats up in Qatar, fans can mark their calendars for the Malaysian GP at SIC, slated as the penultimate round of the thrilling 21-race season from Oct 31 to Nov 2. With records shattered and rivalries ignited, the 2024 MotoGP season is primed for an unforgettable ride.