Pedrosa sets the pace on sweltering first day in Malaysia
After the first two free practice sessions for the Malaysian Grand Prix this weekend, it was Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa who topped the timesheets, dipping under the lap record from the very first session in what is shaping up to be a fast weekend at Sepang.
Pedrosa use the harder front and softer option rear Bridgestone slicks to set his best lap, which saw him 0.8seconds ahead of teammate and recently-crowned World Champion Casey Stoner, whilst Andrea Dovizioso was third quickest for a Repsol Honda 1-2-3. In fact, with San Carlo Gresini’s Marco Simoncelli and Hiroshi Aoyama fourth and fifth, it was an all-Honda top five.
Despite the oppressive humidity at Sepang, which yielded only a brief and localised rain shower at turn ten during the morning’s Moto2 free practice, all today’s MotoGP running was dry. As the track temperature reached a high of 53 degrees Celsius, tyre temperature and wear were of utmost importance so from the perspective of durability the harder compound options were preferred, although the softer rear worked well over shorter ‘qualifying’ runs.
Pedrosa’s laptime of 2m 01.250 is 0.9seconds under the existing lap record which proves that conditions and tyre performance today were good, and that he and his Repsol Honda machine have found a good balance already here.
As always here in Malaysia, the weather can and often does play a deciding role in proceedings and the rains have been a daily occurrence for the past week, at right around the time the race is due to start on Sunday, 1600hrs local time. MotoGP running continues tomorrow with the final free practice session getting underway at 1010hrs.
Hirohide Hamashima – Assistant to Director, Motorsport Tyre Development Division
“Sepang is always a tough circuit for both riders and tyres because of the ambient and track temperature, both of which were characteristically high today. The two long and fast straights where speeds exceed 300km/h and the long and fast corners such as the 150+km/h turns three and five also demand a lot of centre and edge durability. In the morning there was a good mix of riders using both the softer and the harder tyre options so I believe our compound balance is correct here, and I am pleased with the speed at the front. It bodes well for our seventh new lap record this year to be set on Sunday.”