Repsol Honda pair quickly up to speed with Crutchlow third fastest
Repsol Honda teammates Dani Pedrosa and current MotoGP championship leader Marc Marquez were the quickest to get up to speed on day one of free practice at the Sepang International Circuit ahead of Sunday’s Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix. The day was affected by rain somewhat but the MotoGP sessions weren’t affected.
Today went well; we had two good practice sessions and were able to ride in dry conditions.
While the factory Hondas continued at the top of the timing sheets, the fastest Yamaha was that of Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) with a best lap of 2m 01.423s while Valentino Rossi was ‘happy’ with 4th place and his best first day lap of 2m 01.538s on the Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1. The 5th fastest time went to Alvaro Bautista (GO&Fun Honda Gresini) who set a time of 2m 01.659s that was one place better than current MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo who battled with his Yamaha Factory Racing machine today and only managing a best lap time of 2m 01.710s.
Pedrosa was very happy with his first day of practice but revealed he still has considerable pain from his incident in Aragón. He said, “Today went well; we had two good practice sessions and were able to ride in dry conditions in both the morning and afternoon. In the second session it looked like the track was going to be wet after a brief rain shower in-between FP1 and FP2, but it dried out quickly and we were able to continue working on our setups.
When sitting on the bike I have quite a lot of pain, as the seat is very hard, so we shall see if a few more anti-inflammatories can help to alleviate the issue. We might also add a small cushion underneath my leathers, in order to absorb the bumps that we get when riding,” Pedrosa added.
Marquez’s only experience at the Sepang track on MotoGP machinery came at the pre-season testing this year so the rookie was happy to be as high up on the timing screens as he was today. Speaking afterwards he said, “We came here before in pre-season, when I had barely ridden a MotoGP bike so it was interesting to compare things again so many laps and miles later! I felt comfortable and this is important when trying to be more consistent every lap. On the single lap we are half a second off Dani who was very fast, as he always is at Sepang, but our pace in general isn't too far off.
We have to push hard because if he can do it, that means that the Honda is capable of those times. I was hoping to be more consistent but I had some problems with braking, which we were able to solve in the opening practice session. We still need to improve a few things, but I have realized that we are already fast, straight out of the box,” Marquez added.
Fortunately the afternoon session was much better and on my final run of the day we made a positive step and I am pleased to finish inside the top three. I was immediately faster the first time I put in a new tire because for most of FP2 we worked on the set-up of the bike with worn tyres I’d also used this morning,” Crutchlow added.