Fabio Quartararo, seen here celebrating second place in November’s Spanish MotoGP, blitzed the field in preseason tests. Picture: REUTERS
Fabio Quartararo, seen here celebrating second place in November’s Spanish MotoGP, blitzed the field in preseason tests. Picture: REUTERS

Young star Fabio Quartararo, riding a Yamaha, topped the time sheets in the opening MotoGP preseason test at Malaysia’s Sepang circuit on the weekend.

The Frenchman set a 1:58.349 lap time on Sunday to finish just 0.082 sec ahead of Honda’s Cal Crutchlow, who was second fastest, with Suzuki’s Alex Rins third, just a tenth of a second behind Quartararo.

It was a tightly contested practice session, with the top 13 riders separated by just half a second.

SA’s Brad Binder (KTM), the former Moto3 champion who is making his debut in the MotoGP class this season, was 17th quickest on 1:59.104.

Reigning world champion Marc Marquez was 12th on his Honda with 1:58.772, and multiple champion Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) was fifth fastest on 1:58.541.

Rossi will decide in 2020 whether to call time on his stellar MotoGP career after Yamaha recently announced the signing of Quartararo as the Italian great’s replacement from 2021.

Quartararo, 20, will remain with the Petronas Yamaha non-works team for one more season before stepping up alongside Spaniard Maverick Vinales at the factory outfit. The French youngster had an impressive rookie season in 2019 with six pole positions and seven podium finishes

Rossi, 40, will be starting his 25th season in Grand Prix motorcycle racing in March and said he wants time to decide what comes next.

“Before doing so, I need to have some answers that only the track and the first few races can give me,” he said.

If Rossi continues to race, Yamaha said it will provide him with a factory-spec bike and full engineering support.

There will be one more preseason test in Qatar, on February 22, before the riders return there for the first MotoGP race of the year on March 8.


Gearing up for the Emerald Speed Fest

Franco Scribante is one of the contenders in this weekend’s Emerald Speed Fest. Picture: SUPPLIED
Franco Scribante is one of the contenders in this weekend’s Emerald Speed Fest. Picture: SUPPLIED

Emerald Speed Fest, a family orientated motorsport and motoring lifestyle event, takes place in less than a month at the Emerald Resort and Casino in Vanderbijlpark.

High-performance cars, modern road cars, historic race cars and supercars will compete against time on a 1.6km custom-made racetrack from February 28 to March 1.

The pit area will be open to the public across all three days, allowing for visitor interaction with the race cars. Classic cars will also be on display and there will be a retail area to buy the latest vehicles from various car dealerships.

Simola Hillclimb winner Franco Scribante in a Nissan GT-R and Franco Di Matteo in a Jaguar XKR are top contenders for overall Master of the Mile, while some of the other cars to watch in various racing categories include a Mercedes-Benz A45 and an Alfa Romeo Giulia.

Visitors can also expect various family-focused attractions, including live music, a beer garden and access to the casino for the adults.

Tickets range from R50-R135 and are on sale at Computicket. For more information visit emeraldspeedfest.com.


Aberdein signs for BMW works team

SA’s Jonathan Aberdein scores a factory drive with BMW in the German DTM series. Picture: SUPPLIED
SA’s Jonathan Aberdein scores a factory drive with BMW in the German DTM series. Picture: SUPPLIED

SA’s Jonathan Aberdein has been signed as a BMW works driver for the 2020 DTM (German touring car) season.

Aberdein, 21, caught the eye in 2019 with some impressive performances for customer team WRT, and will drive a BMW M4 DTM in 2020, as part of the six-man factory squad. He is one of two South Africans in the team, the other being Sheldon van der Linde, who joined the squad a year ago.

Aberdein impressed with eight top-10 results in 2019, including two fourth places, on his way to finishing 10th in the Drivers’ Championship. Before switching to the DTM, Aberdein raced in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. His biggest success came in 2017, when he won the title in the Formula 4 UAE series.

BMW Group Motorsport director Jens Marquardt said: “He demonstrated his potential emphatically in last season’s DTM, when he repeatedly challenged his fellow works drivers and often beat them. I am confident that he will be a great addition to our strong driver line-up.”

The 2020 DTM season will open on April 25 and 26 at Zolder, Belgium.

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