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Simoncelli on top by lunch on day three at Sepang

Simoncelli on top by lunch on day three at Sepang

The San Carlo Honda Gresini rider led the timesheet by the halfway point of the third and final day of the first MotoGP Test of 2011 in Malaysia, having set the fastest lap of the three days so far.

Marco Simoncelli took the third and final day of the MotoGP Test at Sepang by storm on Thursday as he shot to the top of the timesheet, a best lap of 2'00.757 leaving him with the best lap of the entire Test so far by the time the field broke for lunch at 2pm local time.

Shaving 0.013s off Dani Pedrosa's top time from day two, the San Carlo Honda Gresini rider led Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso and World Champion Jorge Lorenzo on his factory Yamaha M1 by the halfway point on day three. The pair were the only two riders to join Simoncelli under the 2'01” mark in the morning, Dovizioso at +0.188s on his fellow Italian and Lorenzo +0.206s down on the lead time.

With changing conditions the fastest time for each rider inside the top six came within their opening six laps of the day, the exception being Dovizioso (lap 11). Ben Spies was fourth by lunch with a best effort of 2'01.002, followed by Repsol Honda's Casey Stoner at a further 0.110s back. The Australian crashed at Turn 5 during the morning but was fortunately unharmed after the fall.

The solid performance of the RC212V at this Test continues and Repsol Honda rider Pedrosa (+0.484s on Simoncelli) and San Carlo Honda Gresini's Hiroshi Aoyama (+0.596s) made it five Hondas inside the top seven by 2pm. Nicky Hayden, running on the 48mm front forks which he compared against the 42mm option on day two, was the top ranking Ducati with a best lap of 2'01.534 which left him in eighth on the factory Desmosedici GP11.

Monster Yamaha Tech 3's Colin Edwards was the final rider to get within a second of Simoncelli as he placed ninth by lunch time, with Valentino Rossi in tenth having taken 0.755s off his best time from yesterday with a lap of 2'01.842. The Ducati Team rider is trying a completely new set-up on the factory GP11 today, in a bid to understand every change made on the bike as he continues to battle his painful shoulder. A big positive for the Italian was the fact that the chatter problem highlighted on day two appeared to have been solved during this morning's session.

Absent from the timesheet on day three so far is Álvaro Bautista, who has been suffering from stomach problems this morning. Stepping in to fulfil Suzuki's workload on track has been Test rider Nobu Aoki.

MotoGP, 2011

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