Honda’s Dani Pedrosa finished more than half a second ahead of Casey Stoner during Friday’s practice in Malaysia.
Honda riders had a strong start to the Malaysian Grand Prix, sweeping the top-five positions as Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa snagged the top time during Friday’s humid practice session. The Spaniard set the best pace in the morning on soft tires, then slightly improved during the afternoon with a hard compound rear tire to beat the newly crowned MotoGP champion Casey Stoner by 0.820 seconds.
“Today we went pretty fast and consistent even though the track wasn’t very clean,” said Pedrosa. “We did a good job in both practice sessions, but I would like to improve a little more on the chassis side to feel more comfortable with the front and choose the right tire for the race distance.”
Repsol Honda’s third rider, Andrea Dovizioso, was more than half a second behind Stoner and eventually finished 1.414 seconds adrift of Pedrosa after posting third in the timesheets. San Carlo Honda’s Marco Simoncelli and Hiroshi Aoyama followed in fourth and fifth respectively, with Simoncelli more than a second and a half off the pace of Pedrosa.
“We had a very positive weekend in Australia but things have been more difficult here,” Simoncelli said. “We improved from the morning to the afternoon but Pedrosa is like a missile. We have to have a look at our data tonight and work out how we can close the gap.”
Casey Stoner: “We’ll have to see what the conditions are like tomorrow but so far we’re pretty pleased and the bike feels okay.”
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards benefitted from two winter test sessions at the circuit to finish inside the top-six. The American was in fourth during the majority of the afternoon session and eventually finished sixth just 0.040 seconds behind Aoyama. Meanwhile Rizla Suzuki’s Alvaro Bautista continued his strong form from the Australian GP to finish just more than a tenth off the pace of Edwards in seventh.
“Today has been quite a good day for us and I am in seventh position, which is not too bad for a Friday, Bautista said. “This morning we tried a different setting on the bike, similar to the one we used in Australia, and we preferred that one so we carried on with that this afternoon.”
Pramac Racing’s Randy de Puniet and Yamaha’s Ben Spies grabbed eighth and ninth respectively during the afternoon session, with Spies returning cautiously from a concussion.
American John Hopkins is also participating in the Malaysian Grand Prix with Rizla Suzuki. The runner-up in the 2011 British Superbike Championship finished 14th in the charts after posting a best lap of 2’03.885, leaving him 2.6 seconds off the pace of Pedrosa.
Despite finishing fourth in the timesheets Marco Simoncelli is more than a second and a half behind Pedrosa.
“It’s been a really rough day, coming back after the crash in Australia I’m pretty beat up and not able to ride the bike like I want to which is really showing,” said Spies. “We’re doing the best we can but I feel like I’m struggling.”
Ducati’s Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi found themselves outside the top-10 again after earning 11th and 13th respectively in the charts. Both struggled with grip and poor surface conditions throughout the Sepang circuit.
“The track conditions are very different, worse actually, than when we tested here during the winter, because the asphalt was very slippery today,” said Rossi. “It was really bad this morning, just a bit better in the afternoon. That makes it difficult to make a comparison between then and today, but we certainly weren’t as fast as we’d like to be.”
Sepang MotoGP Practice Results 2011:
American John Hopkins is competing as a wild-card entry for Rizla Suzuki and finished 14th in the charts on Friday.
1. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 2’01.250
2. Casey Stoner (Honda) 2’02.070
3. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 2’02.664
4. Marco Simoncelli (Honda) 2’02.823
5. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda) 2’02.951
6. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 2’02.991
7. Alvaro Bautista (Suzuki) 2’03.123
8. Randy de Puniet (Ducati) 2’03.159
9. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 2’03.312
10. Karel Abraham (Ducati) 2’03.318
11. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 2’03.445
12. Loris Capirossi (Ducati) 2’03.595
13. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 2’03.677
14. John Hopkins (Suzuki) 2’03.885
15. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 2’03.901
German rider Stefan Bradl secured the top time in Friday’s Moto2 practice after Marc Marquez decided to sit out the session due to a heavy crash in the morning. Viessmann Kiefer Racing’s Bradl was just 0.022 seconds faster than Pons HP 40’s Aleix Espargaro, with Technomag-CIP’s Dominique Aegerter rounding out the top-three finishers of the day with a best lap of 2’08.572. Gresini Racing Moto2’s Michele Pirro was fourth in the timesheets and just 0.015 seconds faster than Interwetten Paddock Moto2’s Thomas Luthi. A total of 11 crashes took place during the day, with QMMF Racing Team’s Ricky Cardus incident resulting in injuries which prevent him from competing this weekend.
Sepang Moto2 Practice Results 2011:
1. Stefan Bradl (Kalex) 2’08.464
Viessmann Kiefer Racing’s Stefan Bradl led the Moto2 timesheets on Friday after Marc Marquez decided to sit the session out.
2. Aleix Espargaro (Pons Kalex) 2’08.486
3. Dominique Aegerter (Suter) 2’08.572
4. Michele Pirro (Moriwaki) 2’08.594
5. Thomas Luthi (Suter) 2’08.609
6. Alex de Angelis (Motobi) 2’08.616
7. Simone Corsi (FTR) 2’08.862
8. Mika Kallio (Suter) 2’08.970
9. Claudio Corti (Suter) 2’09.001
10. Yuki Takahashi (Moriwaki) 2’09.007
11. Scott Redding (Suter) 2’09.038
12. Andrea Iannone (Suter) 2’09.083
13. Mike di Meglio (Tech 3) 2’09.262
14. Kenan Sofuoglu (Suter) 2’09.275
15. Pol Espargaro (FTR) 2’09.376