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After more than two months of waiting, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo made a strong start in Sepang.
What started as a slightly cool morning for Malaysian standards turned into a scorching hot and sunny afternoon with plenty of action. Clearly eager to get going back aboard his YZR-M1, Rossi came prepared with a special Sepang Test helmet and showed that this year he’ll once again be one of the top protagonists. As the pace of the field started to pick up, he battled teammate Jorge Lorenzo, and rivals Andrea Dovizioso, Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa for the top billing until, with almost three hours into the session, he cruised to the top the leader board. Clocking an impressive 2’00.380s lap, he is already less than 0.9 of second off last year’s fastest pre-season test time of 1’59.533s.
Like his teammate, Lorenzo was riding similar YZR-M1 machines to the prototypes they tested at Valencia at the end of the 2014 season and was also right on the pace. After familiarising himself with the bike again, the Spaniard steadily booked progress and made it a provisional Yamaha 1-2 when he posted a 2’00.521s, just +0.141s off Rossi.
Both riders took a break in the afternoon before returning to the track for a second stint. Rossi and Lorenzo spent the remaining two hours of testing usefully as they focused on further improving their set-up. Their times remained unchanged and they finished in second and third place respectively.
Rossi commented, "It’s a positive first day and I’m very excited to be back on the bike. Today has been really good because I was consistently fast in both the morning and afternoon. We worked a lot on trying to improve our pace with a used tyre, but it’s already quite good. The bike is good and with the new tyre we were able to attack and ride a good lap time. At the end I was in second place just behind Marquez, but not by far. It looks like the bike has improved in different areas. We still have a lot of work to do but the first day was ok."
Lorenzo added, "It’s a completely different story from last year, when we had a lot of problems, to now arrive here and feel comfortable on the bike and also with our position in the classification lap time-wise. This year we’ve been at the front from the beginning, in first three positions, and that means that the bike is working. My physical condition is very good. I feel strong, but the first day is always difficult. You have to use different muscles that you don’t usually use at the gym or during your preparations, so you always get tired. However, compared to the normal pre-season I’m feeling well. Sepang is not our best track, but to have two Yamaha's in the top three is a good signal."
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