Sepang Day One–Season Over

© Bruce Allen     February 6, 2019


Alex Rins on Wednesday at Sepang. Photo courtesy of

Today marked the first day of the first pre-season testing for the 2019 MotoGP championship battle. Table courtesy of

  1. Marc Marquez SPA Repsol Honda (RC213V) 1m 59.621s
  2. Alex Rins SPA Suzuki Ecstar (GSX-RR) 1m 59.880s +0.259s
  3. Maverick Vinales SPA Monster Yamaha (YZR-M1) 1m 59.937s +0.316s
  4. Tito Rabat SPA Reale Avintia (Desmosedici) 1m 59.983s +0.362s
  5. Danilo Petrucci ITA Ducati Team (Desmosedici) 2m 0.051s +0.430s
  6. Valentino Rossi ITA Monster Yamaha (YZR-M1) 2m 0.054s +0.433s
  7. Takaaki Nakagami JPN LCR Honda (RC213V) 2m 0.158s +0.537s
  8. Andrea Dovizioso ITA Ducati Team (Desmosesdici) 2m 0.197s +0.576s
  9. Stefan Bradl GER Honda Test Rider (RC213V) 2m 0.214s +0.593s
  10. Pol Espargaro SPA Red Bull KTM Factory (RC16) 2m 0.313s +0.692s
  11. Jack Miller AUS Pramac Ducati (Desmosedici) 2m 0.383s +0.762s
  12. Franco Morbidelli ITA Petronas Yamaha SRT (YZR-M1) 2m 0.460s +0.839s
  13. Aleix Espargaro SPA Factory Aprilia Gresini (RS-GP) 2m 0.602s +0.981s
  14. Cal Crutchlow GBR LCR Honda (RC213V) 2m 0.681s +1.060s
  15. Francesco Bagnaia ITA Pramac Ducati (Desmosedici)* 2m 0.694s +1.073s
  16. Miguel Oliveira POR Red Bull KTM Tech3 (RC16)* 2m 0.902s +1.281s
  17. Yamaha Test Bike #1 N/A Yamaha Test Rider (YZR-M1) 2m 0.965s +1.344s
  18. Fabio Quartararo FRA Petronas Yamaha SRT (YZR-M1)* 2m 0.985s +1.364s
  19. Mika Kallio FIN KTM Test Rider (RC16) 2m 1.054s +1.433s
  20. Johann Zarco FRA Red Bull KTM Factory (RC16) 2m 1.121s +1.500s
  21. Andrea Iannone ITA Factory Aprilia Gresini (RS-GP) 2m 1.249s +1.628s
  22. Sylvain Guintoli FRA Suzuki Test Rider (GSX-RR) 2m 1.286s +1.665s
  23. Joan Mir SPA Suzuki Ecstar (GSX-RR)* 2m 1.432s +1.811s
  24. Karel Abraham CZE Reale Avintia (Desmosedici) 2m 1.627s +2.006s
  25. Yamaha Test Bike #2 N/A Yamaha Test Rider (YZR-M1) 2m 1.736s +2.115s
  26. Hafizh Syahrin MAL Red Bull KTM Tech3 (RC16) 2m 1.853s +2.232s

Coverage of Wednesday’s session included a piece on Marquez and his rehabilitation from left shoulder surgery, which has gone as expected. He winces a lot. I suspect he would claim that the shoulder is at 80%. Since the last outing in Jerez, the only time he had been on a bike was a 100cc mini on a dirt track for a couple of laps. In full leathers. Wednesday, in the interminable Malaysian heat, for the first time since Jerez, Marquez stepped onto the 2019 RC213V.

Wait. This guy has won the last three premier class titles and five of the last six. His shoulder was so loose last year that Scott Redding popped it out accidentally while congratulating him for the win at Motegi. So Marquez had the surgery and should be close to 100% by the time the lights go out at Losail.


The second aspect of Wednesday, somewhat disturbing, was that Marquez set the fastest time of the day, a day without teammate Jorge Lorenzo, nursing a wrist. And then sat out and watched his chasers spend an hour not beating his time. Now, there are some of you who will holler that the first day of the first practice session of the season in early February is a little early to be handing the November title to someone.

Go ahead and holler. All I’m willing to give is that we haven’t seen Lorenzo on the Honda. Even so, the odds are remote that JLo could challenge for the title in his first year on the bike. He could be a contender during the second half of the season, but MM is likely to make hash of him until then.

The Battle For Second–Wednesday’s Top Ten

Hmmm. Alex Rins on the Suzuki. Nosing out Vinales and the (new and improved Yamaha M1, most likely at the cost of at least one man’s career in Japan. The surprising presence of Tito Rabat on a newer Ducati in fourth threw something of a damper on the validity of the whole thing, as Rabat is still mending from last year. A constant underachiever in MotoGP, one should not forget that he was a baller in Moto2 and training buddy with the Marquez brothers. It is possible, I suppose, that Rabat could be a top ten rider this season, but not top five. Yeah, right, I know, it’s early.

Petrucci (factory Ducati), Rossi (factory Yamaha) and that pesky Nakagami (LCR Honda) who somehow won the last practice session last year occupied fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively. Petrux, one hopes, has adapted to the new bike, and makes the most of his one year contract. Rossi, for whatever reason, is still interested but it, IMO, a top five rider at this point in his career. We’ve been through this now for a few years.

Dovizioso (factory Ducati), Bradl (Honda test rider) and Pol Espargaro (factoryt KTM) completed the top ten. Espargaro the only salve on the ongoing wound that is KTM racing, who riders other than Pol occupied spots #16, 19, 20 and 26 on the time sheets on day one. Again, you KTM folks please spare me the agony of listening to the “just you wait” diatribe so early in the year. Please save it for year’s end, when perhaps Zarco makes it into the top ten. Sorry. Does not appear to be happening in 2019.

Suzuki rookie Joan Mir ended day one, his cherry intact, in 23rd place, shaken, not stirred. I took a stand last year with Rins and Suzuki and was rewarded handsomely. I will take the same stand with Mir, although I am happy to spot him the 2019 season to figure out the bike and the lay of the land, Was it ever more obvious that Suzuki needs a second team in order to run with the big dogs? Sure, Sylvain Guintoli (22nd) is a great guy and all. Suzuki needs a sponsored B team. Shouldn’t be all that hard, if one ignores the global financial shock waves emanating from Brexit in advance of what appears to be some kind of ad hoc “no deal” exit from the EU in late March. By then, MotoGP will have started up and most of us will ignore the rest of the world and stay focused on what matters. Suzuki can make a powerful argument for corporate team sponsors. They are an ascendant organization. As opposed to, say, Great Britain.

About this Column

I have not heard anything concerning 2019 from my friends at Spent the winter not thinking about MotoGP and wondering if I really wanted to do this on my own. I had already purchased the 2019 video feed in November.

So I don’t know. Some weeks things may get a little sparse around here. I would love to resume my spot as the most engaging writer at, but the ball is in their court. I await their call.

In the meanwhile, let’s keep an eye on Sepang.







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8 Responses to “Sepang Day One–Season Over”

  1. Vrooom Says:

    Sure hope we see you on MO Bruce, but we’ll see you here. Rossi’s still top 5, though the latter end of that group. Lorenzo is going to suck hard for a season. Marquez will still win much as I hate the guy. Hope you’re right about Mir. You did nail Rins, and my man Folger went nowhere.


    • Bruce Allen Says:

      I think what’s going to happen is that my site will devolve into a discussion group. I will continue to make my presence felt, but less formally, and with more of an effort to grow the group. I’ll have to figure out how to change the setting so that ANYONE, even you, can post directly to the site without my approval. If Stonepebble shows up I’ll truly regret that one. Peace.


      • Barry_Allen Says:

        G’Day, Bruce. (Sorry, I’ve been binge watching Monty Python’s Flying Circus lately, as I’ve been in need of a good laugh.)

        (This kind of rambles. And is entirely off topic. Delete it if you must.)

        First – will be making a big mistake if they don’t keep you around. The discussions that erupt, sometimes violently, with your articles show that you put as many eyeballs on their pages as any content they produce.

        You once mentioned that you were pushing ninety. Lately I feel like somebody strapped it to my back and made me carry it up twelve flights of stairs.

        A short history. I was born, and lived most of my life in East Texas. I’ve always loved motorcycles since I was a teenager and a crazy uncle of mine taught me to ride on a WWII era Harley. Since then I’ve owned a few, ridden many, and wished for more of both. After college I went in the service, just because it was something young men did in those days. (There was also the draft, of course, but since my father, uncles, both grandfathers, etc., had served i always figured I would too and joined before I was called.) A degree in geography and mathematics meant that I could read a map and work a slide-rule, so I was assigned to Field Artillery. The Korean cease-fire was signed before I finished boot camp/OCS so I never went to that part of Asia. After the service I got a job and had a very quiet, normal life for the next 35 years.

        After almost 40 years of patiently waiting for me, my wife was looking forward to having me all to herself. The dream was of just the two of us spending time together. The big discussion was whether to get a Gold Wing or a Winnebago and see the country. She overruled the Gold Wing (She was much more practical,) but knowing my love of bikes she suggested hauling a small bike for grocery runs and getting around campgrounds and such. She was right. She always was. Fate made the decision for us, and we wound up with neither. Less than a year after retirement all of our road trips became journeys to the M.D Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Two years later the sweetest, loveliest, most patient and understanding angel that was ever put on this Earth was taken from me.

        Twenty-three years later the same demon that took my wife has come for me. There’s not much pain, just constant fatigue. It keeps getting harder and harder to wake up in the morning. Someday soon I just won’t.

        I’ve enjoyed our exchanges and your MotoGP coverage but alas, it appears I have seen my last racing season. The doctor’s best guess is that I MIGHT still be around to see if Captain America wins at COTA again. I wish I could get to Austin for the race, but from where I live it’s about the same distance as Cincinnati to Pittsburgh. Texas being what it is, you and Indiana are closer to me than some parts of this state.

        Vince Guaraldi, Elvis Presley, Douglas Adams – None of them made it to 50. All of them are favorites of mine. I’m grateful for the time I’ve had.

        It’s been mostly a good ride but it’s never long enough. Six months ago my second oldest grandson got his first grandson. I am officially a Great-Great-Grandfather. I wish I could show you the picture… Five generations – Three smiling idiots, and a proud, yet terrified looking father holding the newest member of our clan at only three weeks old. All of us with full heads of hair (thank you, genetics). Considering his relation to me he should grow up to be at least one-sixteenth smart-ass. I just wish I’d be around to see it. With my time left I’ll just have to happy changing a few diapers (on the kid, I’m not that bad off, yet) and throwing a ball for my daughter’s bright eyed little Pomeranian that has adopted me as it’s own. Maybe he knows I need it. My last dog was just that, my last dog. I refused to get another since I would have had to get past 100 to outlive it. I won’t do that to an animal.

        Some have asked if we are related. On a board full of people with names like Spiff, Goose, and DeadArmadillo people assume I use my real name. Maybe if I called myself Clark Kent or Bruce Wayne somebody would have gotten it. It seems no one at MO ever read a comic book. I was using my screen name long before I posted on any motorcycle sites because I always loved the feel of acceleration and speed. Hell, the first time I wanted an Indian was the first time there was an Indian. Sadly,they went out of business before I could save up the cash. I rode a friends CB750 in ’72 and have been a Honda man ever since. Got a V45 Sabre in ’84 – DAMN!! New bikes are faster, but we expect them to be. That Sabre surprised me the first time I goosed it. (In a good way.) Later on I spent a several years seeing a large part of the country on an ST1100. I’m mostly on an electric bicycle now, but on residential streets it’s a hoot.

        I found this too late for you season wrap-up article, but here’s one for Crutchlow and his (then) broken leg.
        – “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

        That and others are here:
        It’s good reference for Churchill, Mark Twain, Hunter S. Thompson, and several other social miscreants we all aspire to emulate.

        Here’s a few links

        A song for us older gents:

        I know some will argue the original is better, but I find it kind of ironic that 25 years later Rod did the song he refused to sing with The Faces. Besides, Amazon has kind of ruined it by putting it in an ad.

        One of my favorite songs:


        Here’s one for everyone’s next track day:


        One more. Technically it’s about Mounties and horses, but I’m having it played at my funeral anyway:


        Here’s a final note from Billy S.
        “Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.” – William Shakespeare

        And one of my own – “No one, at the end of their life, ever said, ‘I wish I’d spent less time playing with my dog.'”

        Thank you for your time.
        Ride On.


  2. Barry_Allen Says:

    I should have used a different way to contact you. If you’ve read the post, please delete it. I just wanted you to know why I wouldn’t be posting on MO anymore. “Yeah, he came over all dead so we have given him the afternoon off.” – more Monty Python


  3. Old MOron Says:

    “[Suzuki] are an ascendant organization. As opposed to, say, Great Britain.”

    For the win! You’ve still got it, Brucey.
    And I’m still bigging you up on MO.

    I don’t know what’s worse, Day 1’s tone that it’s all Marquez, or Day 3’s clatter that it’s all Ducati. What’s your take, Brucey?

    Liked by 1 person

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