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It was Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa who topped the timesheets on the opening day of the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix in Sepang this weekend by setting the fastest lap of the day in the dry morning practice, with the afternoon being marred by patches of heavy rain, headed by Iván Silva.
Whilst the morning was a dry affair where all riders got a full session on track, the afternoon session was hit with heavy rain to begin with, after which the sun slowly dried out the track. It was however not enough to replicate the morning’s conditions, with many of the top riders not opting to set a quick time. And despite Avintia Blusens’ Iván Silva setting the fastest lap of the afternoon in the high 2.10s, it was Pedrosa’s pace in the mid 2.01s in the morning that gave the best indication of the pace to come this weekend.
The Spaniard’s teammate Casey Stoner was a much-improved figure on the first day, finishing just marginally behind in second. He, like Pedrosa, did also not set a time in the afternoon, not wishing to risk further injury. Yamaha Factory Racing’s Lorenzo brought his machine home in third, yet was over three tenths off the top, and will be hoping for a further dry run and an increase in pace to match the Repsol Hondas over the weekend. A further three tenths back was Andrea Dovizioso on his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 satellite machine, who looks set to have another momentous battle with his teammate Cal Crutchlow, who ended the day marginally behind in fifth.
He finished ahead of Yamaha’s Ben Spies, with the American still seeking that extra sliver of pace to get past the Monster Yamaha duo. LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl made a solid start to the weekend in seventh, just under a second off the top, yet also sat out the second free practice, stating that very little was to be gained from the mixed conditions. Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden ended the day in eighth, and did look like he was preparing his bike for the wet briefly in FP2, though did not persist with the number of dry patches on track.
San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista would have been disappointed with his first outing in ninth, his final position of the day, however he did lap consistently fast when the track was at its wettest, leading the way for some time. Pramac Racing Team’s Héctor Barberá’s day saw him finish tenth, while Ducati’s Valentino Rossi finished in 11th place. Rossi was one of the riders who chose to destroy a pair of wet tyres in the afternoon on a drying track, much to the delight of the local fans.
Top CRT spot went to Power Electronics Aspar’s Randy de Puniet in 13th, set in the morning practice, before also attempting a near-dry run at the end of FP2. The main protagonists out in the afternoon were the CRT contingent, looking to gain as much track time as possible, to try and claw back time on the prototype machines. Silva benefitted from the last few seconds as the track was as its driest, to finish ahead of San Carlo’s Michele Pirro and De Puniet. Wet afternoons are not uncommon in Sepang, yet most riders and teams will be hoping for a fully wet session should the skies open once more.
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