Honda’s reigning MotoGP champion Marc Marquez set the pace on the first day of 2019 pre-season testing at Sepang despite not being fully fit.

Marquez, who is still recovering from surgery that was required to fix his troubled left shoulder, took over the top spot from Alex Rins just before the halfway point of the eight-hour session. He ended his programme for the day soon after with 29 laps completed, opting to rest and prepare for the second day of testing.

Despite this, Marquez’s best time of 1m59.621s was never threatened, even as track activity ramped up in the cooler temperatures of the session’s final hour.

Suzuki rider Rins settled for the runner-up spot, a quarter of a second behind Marquez and half a tenth up on third-placed Maverick Vinales, leading the way for Yamaha.

Avintia Ducati rider Tito Rabat broke into the top 10 late on and then snatched a top-four spot in the dying minutes. He ended the day as top representative for the Bologna marque, narrowly overhauling works team newcomer Danilo Petrucci, who had headed the session before Rins.

Vinales’ Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi was sixth, ahead of LCR Honda’s Takaaki Nakagami and the other Ducati factory bike of Andrea Dovizioso.

Honda tester Stefan Bradl, deputising for the injured Jorge Lorenzo in the Repsol Honda team in the Sepang test, took the ninth spot.

Early pace-setter Pol Espargaro crashed on a quick lap in the closing stages of the session, but still finished as the top KTM in 10th, beating new teammate Johann Zarco by over eight tenths.

Zarco, who struggled to get to grips with the RC16 during the post-season last year, had another low-key showing. He finished 20th, outpaced by the satellite Tech 3 bike of rookie Miguel Oliveira in 16th and KTM tester Mika Kallio in 19th.

Jack Miller, who crashed around the same time as Espargaro, took 11th for Pramac Ducati, ahead of Franco Morbidelli on the Petronas SRT Yamaha.

Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro, who topped the Sepang shakedown last week, was 13th, while his new stablemate Andrea Iannone had his day disrupted by a crash on his first run.

Cal Crutchlow, returning from the ankle injury that ended his 2018 season early, finished 14th, ahead of top rookie Pecco Bagnaia of Pramac.

Aleix Espargaro testing at Sepang 2019