The MotoGP paddock is back in action with the season-opening three-day test at Sepang. Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner wrapped-up Day 1 with a fastest lap of 2’01.574 aboard his new RC212V. The Aussie took quickly to updates on his Honda and put in a total of 52 laps while setting a best lap which was only 0.037 seconds off pole position in the 2010 series. The reigning champ, Jorge Lorenzo, trailed Stoner by 0.403 seconds, with Stoner’s new Repsol Honda teammate, Dani Pedrosa, third-fastest. Valentino Rossi, still ailing from off-season shoulder surgery, was 12th-fastest on the day.
“A very positive day,” said Stoner. “At the beginning it took some time to get used to the bike again, but I soon felt comfortable and we had a good day. We didn’t change the set-up too much compared to the one we had in Valencia and I am pleased to see that even if the circuit is different, it still works pretty well here in Sepang.”
Sporting the Number 1 plate this season, Lorenzo shook off the rust of the two-month winter break with the second-fastest lap.
“It’s been a good start today,” said Lorenzo, “we tried a few things and it seemed for everything we tried it was a little bit better, not big improvements but as I said in Valencia at the test last year, the 2011 bike seems to have less wheelie so we can open the throttle earlier in the corners and in some corners I have better corner speed as well.”
Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo, seen here showcasing his Number 1 plate for 2011, took the second-fastest lap.
San Carlo Honda’s Marco Simoncelli opened 2011 tests strongly by posting the fourth-best time of 2’02.295. Rounding out the top-five times was Factory Yamaha’s Ben Spies, who was 0.758 seconds off the pace of the leader but very satisfied with his first day’s efforts. The American suffered a crash early in the session but walked away unscathed from the incident.
“Today was good,” said Spies. “The weather forecast wasn’t so great so to get as much time on the bike as we did was good. We set out to not do too many laps to avoid getting tired, it’s easy to over-do it on the first day. We did enough to get my head up to speed then relaxed as we have a lot to look at over the next two days for Yamaha and Bridgestone.”
In Rizla Suzuki’s corner Alvaro Bautista got things off to a decent start by taking sixth in the books. The Spaniard ran Suzuki’s latest spec engine as well as new chassis.
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa managed third in the books despite lingering pain from his collarbone injury last season.
“Well, it’s been a long time since Valencia and on my first laps I thought Suzuki made a mistake and fitted a 1000cc engine in the bike,” said Bautista. “It feels so fast after a long break! But, after some easy laps, I began to get my rhythm and to ride comfortably.”
Ducati Marlboro’s Valentino Rossi continued to adjust to the Desmosedici GP11 in Malaysia by taking 12th on the timesheets. Still dealing with a painful shoulder, the Italian completed 41 laps on the first day and was more than a second and a half adrift of Stoner.
“Rarely have I been this happy with a twelfth place, because after the test at Misano, we were pretty pessimistic considering how bad I felt there,” said Rossi. “It went better here though, especially in the morning, and we were able to do 20, 25 laps at a decent speed.”
Right behind Rossi in the charts was American teammate, Nicky Hayden, who had the 13th-best lap while working on various technical updates to the GP11. Hayden’s fellow countryman, Colin Edwards, fared better with a ninth-place result on the Tech 3 Yamaha.
2011 MotoGP Sepang Test Day 1 Results:
Despite running 12th after Day 1 Ducati’s Valentino Rossi is encouraged about his results and his improved fitness.
1. Casey Stoner (Honda) 2’01.574
2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2’01.977
3. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 2’02.024
4. Marco Simoncelli (Honda) 2’02.295
5. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 2’02.332
6. Alvaro Bautista (Suzuki) 2’02.422
7. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda) 2’02.483
8. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 2’02.507
9. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 2’02.514
10. Randy de Puniet (Ducati) 2’03.152
11. Kousuke Akiyoshi (Honda) 2’03.224
12. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 2‘:03.365
13. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 2’03.508
14. Loris Capirossi (Ducati) 2’03.695
15. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 2’03.767