Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa picked up where he left off three weeks ago by leading the opening day of the second Sepang MotoGP test in Malaysia today, the Spaniard again topping his series rival Jorge Lorenzo on the factory Yamaha M1 in a day cut short by afternoon rains.
Early on riders found a dirty and slippery track from earlier rains and it showed in the lap times - some two seconds off the pace from the last test at Sepang. On the 17th of his 43 laps, however, Pedrosa recorded the fastest lap of the day - a 2:01.580.
"Today we continued trying things out with the bike here in Sepang, focusing most of all on suspension," Pedrosa said. "We also worked a little on the electronics. The track wasn't 100 percent after the rainfall from the past few days, but we were able to ride well. In the afternoon it rained again, and we used this to perform some laps in the wet. Tomorrow we will continue with the work that we have scheduled."
Defending World Champion Lorenzo turned in 25 laps before stopping for the day with the second best time - .235 of a second from Pedrosa - after spending the day searching for better acceleration from his Yamaha.
"Today we just tried to improve our current settings," Lorenzo said. "We made some modifications, but nothing special. We need to improve the acceleration a little bit but for the moment [there are] no new bits to try. The track was more slippery than the first test due to the rain, which has left the tarmac in a worse condition."
Third fastest on the first day was Pedrosa's rookie teammate Marc Marquez with a best of 2:01.942. Marquez had his second-career MotoGP crash, but he was able to pick the bike up and ride back to the pits.
"Today went pretty well," Marquez said. "It's just a shame that the track was so slippery, because we weren't able to collect all the data that we wanted due to the times not being so fast. We were not able to ride a lot in the afternoon either, because as soon as we got on the pace it started to rain and we aborted the session. We hope that the surface is better tomorrow, with more grip and less rain. Our aim is to be able to put in laps, gain experience and test out a lot of things that we have pending."
German Stefan Bradl was fourth fastest on the day, besting Valentino Rossi by .069 of a second. Rossi, in fourth, was less than half a second off Pedrosa's best. Rossi's morning was hampered by a technical problem with his new Yamaha, forcing him back on the old-style chassis.
"The first day is not so bad, but we were unlucky because we had a small problem with the bike which had the new chassis so we had to stop and use the old bike," Rossi said. "We made some tests with that using just one tire and my pace and my lap times were not so bad. After we waited for the afternoon for the real work, but the rain came so we decided to stop and continue tomorrow. If it rains again tomorrow we will do some laps in the wet conditions."
Andrea Dovizioso was the best of the Ducatis after turning in 22 laps. He ended up 1.2 seconds off Pedrosa's best. The always hard-working Nicky Hayden turned in the most laps of the day - 46 - with his best lap .342 of a second behind his teammate and putting him ninth best.
"It's good to be back to work in Malaysia," Hayden said. "This morning we lost a bit of time sorting out some electronics mapping, but then we were able to do some good riding. Ducati brought a couple of things to try, mainly some changes to weight distribution, which helped make the bike a little nimbler on change of direction. Also, I'm able to brake better with the same amount of pressure on the lever. We still need to work on it, but anyway it's an improvement. With the weather, we obviously didn't get a full a day with a dry track, but it was important for me to ride in the wet. We know the gap to the front is still too big, but we're slowly making progress, and hopefully we can reduce it further over the next two days."
Day One Times
1. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 2:01.580
2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2:01.815
3. Marc Marquez (Honda) 2:01.942
4. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 2:01.959
5. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 2:02.028
6. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 2:02.272
7. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 2:02.362
8. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 2:02.801
9. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 2:03.143
10. Bradley Smith (Yamaha) 2:03.632
20. Colin Edwards 2:05.518