Motorcycle Racing News MotoGP MotoGP Riders Set to Officially Begin 2019 | Sepang Test Preview

MotoGP Riders Set to Officially Begin 2019 | Sepang Test Preview

2019 Sepang MotoGP Test

The winter break is finally over, and the first official MotoGP test of 2019 are set to begin Wednesday at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.

The 2019 MotoGP lineup, which has some major rider changes, will test at Sepang through Friday.

Following is a rundown of each manufacturer ahead of Sepang testing.

2019 Sepang MotoGP Preview Honda's Marc Marquez
Honda’s Marc Marquez


On the factory side of Honda, the new Repsol Honda teammates Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez underwent surgery over the break so they could be fully fit for 2019 MotoGP.

Five-time MotoGP Champion Marquez will be the only Repsol rider at the test, though. He has recovered from shoulder surgery, but the same can’t be said for Lorenzo. The Spaniard had surgery on his wrist last month, and is sidelined so he can fully recover for the Qatar test February 23-25.

LCR Honda Castrol’s Cal Crutchlow has not ridden since his crash in the Australian Grand Prix, the Brit breaking his ankle. He returns for the first time on the bike this week.

Also out for Honda is LCR Honda Idemitsu rider Takaaki Nakagami and official Honda Test Team rider Stefan Bradl.


The factory Ducati squad – now called the Mission Winnow Ducati team – features Andrea Dovizioso and newbie Danilo Petrucci. Dovizioso was on a tear the past two seasons, finishing runner up overall.

Petrucci has ridden for satellite Ducati teams since 2015 with a best of eighth overall in the title chase in 2017 and 2018. The Italian’s best finishes arrived in 2017 when he claimed third in Mugello and Motegi.

2019 Sepang MotoGP Preview  Andrea Dovizioso
Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso

Alma Pramac Racing’s two Ducati machines will be out on track as well, with Jack Miller now the experienced rider in the squad and aiming for another step forward this year. That’s as Francesco Bagnaia joins him in the team, and the hotly-tipped rookie and reigning Moto2 Champion will be one to watch. Reale Avintia Racing’s Tito Rabat will be back at fuller strength after his injury last season, and Karel Abraham moves to the team to join the Spaniard – on a GP18, moving two iterations forward in one leap.


The factory Yamaha YZR-M1 pilots – Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales – will have much work to do at Sepang if they want to progress throughout 2019 MotoGP. The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP team struggled throughout 2018 MotoGP, but have identified some issues over the winter break.

Yamaha test riders Jonas Folger, Katsuyuki Nakasuga and Kohta Nozane are also expected ride at Sepang.

In addition, Petronas Yamaha SRT joins the grid. The new team have Yamaha machinery and the lineup of Franco Morbidelli and rookie Fabio Quartararo, with a lot of interest focused on both men. The new team and the test rider count also means the Iwata marque outnumber any other manufacturer at the first test of the season.

MotoGP Riders Set to Officially Begin 2019 | Sepang Test Preview Valentino Rossi
Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi


Team Suzuki Ecstar field Alex Rins, another man aiming for a consistent challenge at the front this season, and another hotly-tipped rookie in Joan Mir. They also have a test rider present in the form of Sylvain Guintoli, with both the veteran Frenchman and Rins, now a sophomore, adding some continuity to the Hamamatsu factory’s program as Mir settles into life in the premier class.

Suzuki no longer have concessions, however, after an impressive season last year…could that play a role in their 2019? After some more difficult directional decisions for 2017, the factory want to make sure they have another stellar campaign, MotoGP says.


Red Bull KTM Factory Racing arrive with big designs on the season ahead, too. After a final round that saw incredible success for the Austrian factory in all three classes, and injury struggles largely behind them, there’s a lot of expectation around the newest factory on the block.

For one, Johann Zarco is a man in the spotlight, as is new teammate Pol Espargaro after taking their first ever podium in Valencia. Test rider Mika Kallio is back from injury, the only bad news for KTM is the continuing recovery of new signing Dani Pedrosa. But they also have two more machines out on track – Hafizh Syahrin and Miguel Oliveira of Red Bull KTM Tech 3, a sophomore and a rookie but two riders who are both new to the machine, MotoGP says.

MotoGP Riders Set to Officially Begin 2019 | Sepang Test Preview
Aprilia’s Alexis Espargaro


Finally, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini have some exciting additions for 2019. Andrea Iannone joins the Noale factory alongside Aleix Espargaro, and the Italian squad now have test rider Bradley Smith’s experience to call on as they continue developing the RS-GP. All three will be on track at Sepang, and they’ll be aiming to gather important information to help guide their season after some struggles in 2018, MotoGP says.

The three-day Sepang MotoGP test gets underway at 10 a.m. local time Wednesday, February 6, and runs through Friday, February 8.

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