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Hayden starts fastest on final day in Sepang

Hayden starts fastest on final day in Sepang

MotoGP's Sepang test concludes today, with a mammoth field of 20 riders on track for the final day of the opening riding opportunity of 2008.

MotoGP's Sepang test concludes today, with a mammoth field of 20 riders on track for the final day of the opening riding opportunity of 2008. Of said riders, 12 made an early start at the Malaysian track, in contrast to a slow filling up of pit lane over the past two days.

As of 2pm, most riders' lap counters were already displaying high figures. The fastest rider so far today, and indeed the quickest of the week so far, is 2006 MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden, who set a scorching time of 2'00.325 over two tenths of a second under the pole record. The American has been working with a pneumatic valve engine new to the Honda RC212V, and has already made his mark on the timesheets, besting an early fast lap by his title successor Casey Stoner set before the clock had struck ten in Malaysia.

Stoner's work this week has been focused on tyre testing, and the Australian may yet best his times with further analysis of qualifiers. The Ducati factory rider will also be hoping to undertake a much-needed race simulation before the riders head to Phillip Island, having seen previous attempts hampered by electrical problems on day one and a clutch issue during yesterday's extended run.

The fastest rider on both opening days in Sepang, Randy de Puniet has had a slow start to the third session. The Frenchman, riding the Michelin-shod LCR Honda, has until now been the standout performer of the test, but has not been able to match some of the fast times set today. De Puniet suffered a small crash just before midday at turn 2, but has continued riding.

Many riders will be trying qualifying tyres today in the latter stages of the day, although how far they will push the envelope having witnessed so many crashes over the past three days remains to be seen. Both Michelin and Bridgestone have been key participants in the test, with the riders searching for the right direction with new compounds and in some cases completely new manufacturers for 2008.

Rizla Suzuki have been resting riders Chris Vermeulen and Loris Capirossi ahead of the duo's return to Australia next week, allowing test riders Kousuke Akiyoshi and Nobuatsu Aoki to put the GSV-R through its paces. The Japanese pairing will be further running the newest evolution of the machine through its paces, with an exhaustive testing schedule outlined in preparation for an important season.

A full report from the final day of testing in Sepang will follow on, with footage and interviews with the key protagonists of the week.

MotoGP Sepang Test

Day Three Times (as of 2pm local time)

1. HAYDEN, REPSOL HRC - 02'00.326 / 33 laps
2. STONER, DUCATI MARLBORO - 02'00.660 / 27
3. EDWARDS, YAMAHA TECH3 - 02'01.179 / 21
4. HOPKINS, KAWASAKI RACING - 02'01.198 / 30
5. CAPIROSSI, RIZLA SUZUKI - 02'01.778 / 22
6. ROSSI, FIAT YAMAHA - 02'01.852 / 26
7. VERMEULEN, RIZLA SUZUKI - 02'01.861 / 38
8. DOVIZIOSO, JiR TEAM SCOT - 02'02.081 / 27
9. LORENZO, FIAT YAMAHA - 02'02.104 / 45
10. DE ANGELIS, HONDA GRESINI - 02'02.198 / 33
11. DE PUNIET, LCR HONDA MOTOGP - 02'02.340 / 28
12. NAKANO, HONDA GRESINI - 02'02.616 / 26
13. MELANDRI, DUCATI MARLBORO - 02'02.725 / 41
14. WEST, KAWASAKI RACING - 02'02.978 / 34
15. ELIAS, ALICE TEAM - 02'02.995 / 34
16. TOSELAND, YAMAHA TECH3 - 02'02.997 / 23
17. JACQUE, KAWASAKI RACING - 02'03.030 / 23
18. GUINTOLI, ALICE TEAM - 02'03.628 / 33
19. CANEPA, DUCATI TEST - 02'03.703 / 25
20. SERIZAWA, KAWASAKI RACING - 02'06.500 / 19
21. AOKI, RIZLA SUZUKI - -.--- / 0
22. AKIYOSHI, RIZLA SUZUKI - -.--- / 0

MotoGP, 2008

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