Rossi Fires First Shot In Sepang

Paul Carruthers | February 4, 2010

World Champion Valentino Rossi got things rolling today in the first of two days of MotoGP testing at the Sepang Circuit in Malaysia, the Fiat Yamaha rider going under the lap record to lead the way in the first pre-season test of 2010.Rossi’s best was a 2:01.411 in the morning session – on his 15th of 54 laps – and it put him half a second ahead of Marlboro Ducati’s Casey Stoner, the Aussie slotting into the second fastest spot.”Today was very important because this year we have just six days of testing in which to set the bike, so we can not waste any time,” Rossi said in a release from his team. “This first day was very positive, we tried the new bike for 2010, with a different chassis and a new engine, which can do more kilometers, and it is quite fast. Yamaha has worked very well over the winter. Now we need to spend time on setting some electronics and other things. This is only the start, but it seems we’re already in good shape.”With Stoner ending up second with his 2:01.902, the first of the three Americans was next and it was Colin Edwards. The Texan lapped at 2:01.932 on the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha and was the final rider to crack into the 2:01s.”After I blew off a few cobwebs this morning I’ve got to say the bike worked really great and I’ve got to say a big thanks to Yamaha,” Edwards said in a team release. “They have impressed me because we knew it was a big challenge to achieve a high level of performance while also getting more durability out of the engine for the new rules. And they have done that and I’m really happy, so I’m already excited about the new season. The engine seems much better off the bottom. Last year I’d open the throttle and nothing really happened, but this year there’s a response when you push. I never even touched the bike today, I just got on it and rode it and it felt really natural and I could do what I wanted with the bike. It accelerated how I wanted, I could hold a line how I wanted and I was riding round talking to myself inside my helmet saying ‘how much fun is this?’ When the bike does what you ask, it’s pretty easy. It was a great way to start what hopefully is going to be another successful year with Herve Poncharal and the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team.”Somewhat surprisingly, Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi was next, the veteran beating out Fiat Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo for the fourth fastest time.Italian Andrea Dovizioso put the first of the Hondas sixth fastest, the Repsol Honda rider ending up with a 2:02.630 – .162 of a second faster than Marlboro Ducati’s Nicky Hayden.”This is a very important test and it’s good to be back on the bike after such a long winter break,” Dovizioso said in a team release. “This was a positive first day and I’m happy with the updated machine that Honda has brought here. We have a lot of work to do before we’re ready and many things that need to be tested, so today’s lap times are not indicative of our potential. The work that Honda has done on the electronics has made a big improvement, and also the feeling from the chassis is better. We’re concentrating on improving a pace that we can maintain throughout the race, and that’s what we’ll continue with tomorrow. There’s plenty still to test but this first session has been important to confirm we’re heading in the right direction.”Dani Pedrosa rode his Repsol Honda to the eighth fastest time with Pramac Green Team Ducati’s Mika Kallio ninth and Aspar Honda’s Hector Barbera 10th.Texan Ben Spies was 12th on the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha – but only 1.7 seconds adrift of Rossi’s best.”I tried as hard as I could for the first day but I’ve got a little bit of jetlag and I wasn’t at 100 percent,” Spies said in a release from Yamaha. “Despite that though the new bike is really good. I got behind a couple of people and the engine performance was really good and that is a real positive. I’m still working on my mid-corner speed and trusting the Bridgestone tires and today was still a good day even if I’d like to have been a bit further up the timesheets. My times aren’t far off on a track that these guys know like the back of their hand, so I know there is plenty more to come from me. My guy’s asked me what I need to work on for tomorrow and right now it’s just me. There’s a good half-a-second just in myself. I’ve got a lot to learn and it takes time. I’ve already been getting a lot of help and advice from Colin about the track and that is great for me and for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team that we are working together like that.”

Thursday Times

1.                  Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 2:01.411

2.                  Casey Stoner (Ducati) 2:01.902

3.                  Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 2:01.932

4.                  Loris Capirossi (Suzuki) 2:02.1025.

5.                  Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2:02.866

6.                  Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 2:02.630

7.                  Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 2:02.792

8.                  Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 2:02.866

9.                  Mika Kallio (Ducati) 2:02.987

10.                  Hector Barbera (Honda) 2:03.03012. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 2:03.142

Paul Carruthers | Editor

Paul Carruthers took over as the editor of Cycle News in 1993 after serving as associate editor since starting his career at the publication in 1985. Carruthers has covered every facet of the sport in his near-28-year tenure at America's Daily Motorcycle News Source.