The Sepang circuit in Malaysia played host to the opening MotoGP test of the year earlier today. New Honda signing, Casey Stoner, topped the time sheets with a late lap that saw the Australian finish the day ahead of Jorge Lorenzo.
Lorenzo, the reigning world champion, had an impressive day and topped the time sheets for most of the day. The Yamaha rider finished the day just ahead of Dani Pedrosa. Pedrosa struggled with the effects of a fractured collarbone at the tail end of last season but the diminutive Spaniard had no issues today.
“I’m pretty happy with how things went today,” said Pedrosa. “My priority was to see how I was on the bike after so long without riding and the feeling has been positive. Obviously I still have less strength under braking and lack of stability in the shoulder with the direction changes, but the cramps have gone and this is very positive for me.”
It was a good day for Honda riders with Marco Simoncelli finishing the opening day fourth just ahead of Ben Spies. The American, who will ride for the factory Yamaha squad alongside Lorenzo, opened the session with a crash but recovered well to finish faster than the impressive Alvaro Bautista.
It was not however a good day at the office for Valentino Rossi; the Italian ended the dayin 12th position. The nine times world champion spoke after the session and said that:”Rarely have I been this happy with a twelfth place, because after the test at Misano, we were pretty pessimistic considering how bad I felt there,” he said. “It went better here though, especially in the morning, and we were able to do 20, 25 laps at a decent speed.
“Unfortunately, it became more difficult when I lost a lot of strength in the afternoon, but in the end I was able to do about fifteen more laps,” he added. “Let’s say that at the moment, I have quite a bit of pain and not much strength, whereas the opposite would be preferable!”
Rossi’s progress, and health, will be the centre of attention throughout the offseason but for now it is Stoner who leads the way after what the 2007 world champion called a “Very positive day.” said Stoner. “At the beginning it took some time to get used to the bike again, but I soon felt comfortable and we had a good day.”
The test will continue for another two days of running.
Pos Rider Team Time Gap 1. Casey Stoner Honda 2m01.574s 2. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 2m01.977s + 0.403s 3. Dani Pedrosa Honda 2m02.024s + 0.450s 4. Marco Simoncelli Gresini Honda 2m02.295s + 0.721s 5. Ben Spies Yamaha 2m02.332s + 0.758s 6. Alvaro Bautista Suzuki 2m02.422s + 0.848s 7. Hiroshi Aoyama Gresini Honda 2m02.483s + 0.909s 8. Andrea Dovizioso Honda 2m02.507s + 0.933s 9. Colin Edwards Tech 3 Yamaha 2m02.514s + 0.940s 10. Randy de Puniet Pramac Ducati 2m03.152s + 1.578s 11. Kousuke Akiyoshi Honda Test 2m03.224s + 1.650s 12. Valentino Rossi Ducati 2m03.365s + 1.791s 13. Nicky Hayden Ducati 2m03.508s + 1.934s 14. Loris Capirossi Pramac Ducati 2m03.695s + 2.121s 15. Hector Barbera Aspar Ducati 2m03.767s + 2.193s 16. Cal Crutchlow Tech 3 Yamaha 2m04.009s + 2.435s 17. Toni Elias LCR Honda 2m04.238s + 2.664s 18. Karel Abraham Cardion Ducati 2m04.470s + 2.896s