Pedrosa leads the way at rain affected Sepang free practice

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Mixed weather conditions stop many riders from participating in both sessions

Dani Pedrosa came away on top of the lap times during today’s free practice sessions ahead of the Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang International Circuit. The Repsol Honda rider set a fastest overall time of 2m 1.621s in the first free practice session and the Spaniard’s teammate Casey Stoner was close behind (2m 1.773s) while Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo kept both Hondas in sight with a third place lap of 2m 1.934s.

We've been lucky to have the first practice in the dry to begin setting up the bike for the race.

Dani Pedrosa

The afternoon’s session was in stark contrast to the warm morning conditions following a downpour that was expected to fall leaving the majority of the top riders to sit out the session giving the CRT teams the perfect opportunity to get up to the sharp end of the timings. This is exactly what they did with Avintia Blusens rider Ivan Silva topping the session with a best lap of 2m 10.602s while Michele Pirro (San Carlo Honda Gresini) was second with a lap of 2m 12.043s and Power Electronics Aspar riders Randy de Puniet in third place (2m 12.046s).

The afternoon session was a waste for most of the top teams with the track drying throughout the sessions but with some standing water leaving the riders that did venture out having to use full wet rubber that was causing a lot of slides nearing the end. The top three men from this morning’s session never left their chairs with no valuable data available to them due to the slippery track conditions. The morning session however provided much better conditions for the teams, but with rain always a threat in the tropical Malaysian climate, some of the top teams may regret not taking to track to test wet weather settings.

Fourth place in the morning session went to Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Andrea Dovizioso with the Italian setting a best lap time of 2m 2.236s that was good enough to end up one place in front of teammate Cal Crutchlow on a 2m 2.266s lap. Coming away with 6th this morning was American Ben Spies on the Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1 with a lap time of 2m 2.358s and he finished ahead of rookie Stefan Bradl on the LCR Honda who set a best time of 2m 2.617s. Nicky Hayden ended the first session in 8th with a lap of 2m 2.754s for the Ducati Team while San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Alvaro Bautista ended up in 9th with a time of 2m 2.872s.

Casey Stoner, Repsol Honda Team
Casey Stoner, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Repsol Media

The top ten was rounded out by Pramac Racing’s Hector Barbera on the satellite Ducati GP12 with a best lap of 2m 3.221s and one place better than factory Ducati rider Valentino Rossi in 11th (2m 3.274s). Czech rider Karel Abraham finished in 12th with a best lap of 2m 4.624s for the Cardion AB Motoracing Team with the best CRT time this morning coming from Randy De Puniet on his Power Electronics Aspar machine (2m 5.029s) and one place ahead of his teammate Aleix Espargaro in 14th with a lap time of 2m 5.077s. Colin Edwards had the 15th fastest time this morning for the NGM Forward Racing team 2m 5.387s while this afternoon’s second-placed man Michele Pirro setting the 16th fastest time in dry conditions (2m 6.058s).

Paul Bird Motorsport’s James Ellison set a lap time of 2m 6.452s in 17th place while Roberto Rolfo (Speedmaster) was 18th fastest with a 2m 6.470s lap. Yonny Hernandez finished the morning session in 19th with a lap time of 2m 7.257s ahead of this afternoon’s fastest man Silva who set a 2m 7.291s in the warm morning conditions. Danilo Petrucci finished in 21st for the Came IodaRacing team (2m 7.818s).

Speaking about his fastest time this morning Pedrosa said, “We've been lucky to have the first practice in the dry to begin setting up the bike for the race because as we've seen in the last few days sooner or later it rains here. The track was a little dirty in the morning and the grip level quite poor, but the lap times were not so bad and the conditions will improve throughout the weekend.

In the morning I had a lot of vibration in the rear, which we think was a problem with the wheel balance. I did a sighting lap in the afternoon and it was full wet until turn 4 but from there, full dry, so we decided to stay in the pits. We will have to make good use of track time tomorrow morning to prepare the bike for qualifying and the race,” Pedrosa added.

Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha Factory Racing
Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha Factory Racing

Photo by: Yamaha MotoGP

Stoner was feeling a lot more back to himself today following a tough return to racing last weekend saying, “I definitely feel more comfortable here than I did in Japan, I'm not sure if this is time on the bike or the fact that this track isn't quite so demanding on my right leg. The circuit goes to the right a lot, but there aren't so many slow corners that I need to pick the bike up from and I'm getting a better feeling here so the lap times came easier. We still have quite a bit of work to do and I don't think we are anywhere near the pace that we need to be but the first session went very well and hopefully we can continue in this way for the remainder of the weekend.”

Meanwhile, Lorenzo was content with his pace in the first free practice session. He said, “This morning was great, from the beginning I was competitive and more or less at the same pace as Dani and Casey. Casey especially is much stronger than he was in Japan. This afternoon unfortunately we couldn’t practice because of the weather. We need to improve the behavior of the bike in acceleration for tomorrow, it’s a little nervous so we need to make it a little easier.”

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Series MOTOGP
Article type Practice report
Tags avintia, featured, hatch, honda, lorenzo, pedrosa, repsol, silva, speang, stoner, yamaha