The first on-track MotoGP activity of the year concluded in Malaysia on Friday, with Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi the fastest of the premier class riders for the second consecutive day.
The weather played a part throughout the day with conditions wet at the scheduled start of 9am local time, and for a period between 11am and 12pm there was little activity on track. Afternoon sunshine improved the situation after 1pm, when both Rossi and Ducati Marlboro rider Casey Stoner appeared.
Shaving 0.486s off his previous day’s best time, Rossi’s 2’00.925 on the 20th of 32 laps on his factory YZR-M1 prototype was the only lap under the 2’01” mark, as he left a gap of 0.395s to Stoner. The Australian’s 2’01.320 was over half a second quicker than his time set on Thursday as he continued to feel the benefit of the Ducati Desmosedici GP10, which he says is very well balanced.
Rossi’s team-mate and rival Jorge Lorenzo was the third quickest on Friday at 0.755s behind the Italian’s pace with a best of 2’01.680. The Spaniard was pleased with the general direction of the developments on his bike, and his fastest time was a marked improvement as he produced 60 laps, the most of any of the 17 riders on Friday.
Dani Pedrosa knocked over a full second off his time as he made real progress on the RC212V. The Repsol Honda rider carried on working on Öhlins suspension, and was happy with the weight distribution as he recorded the fourth fastest lap of the day at 2’01.822.
Appearing to have recovered from the jetlag that made day one tough, Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Ben Spies was fifth on the sheet as he clocked in at 2’02.266 on Friday. The American achieved well over the half-second improvement he targeted following his first day, taking 0.876s off as he continued his acclimatisation to the M1.
Pedrosa’s team-mate Andrea Dovizioso’s work on his RC212V produced the sixth fastest time, as the Italian’s adaptation to new electronics allowed a lap of 2’02.272, whilst Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) was 0.207s further down the timesheet after his positive reaction to the throttle on the new M1.
On their respective GP10 bikes Ducati Marlboro rider Nicky Hayden (2’02.493) and Pramac Racing’s Aleix Espargaró (2’02.647) both displayed progress, whilst Loris Capirossi of the Rizla Suzuki team was pleased with the three different types of chassis he tried out, registering at 2’02.763 after 48 laps.
The first rider out on track was Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini) at 9.30am local time as he completed 55 laps and was 11th fastest, with Héctor Barberá (Team Aspar), Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) and Hiroshi Aoyama (Interwetten Honda MotoGP) following.
Marco Simoncelli experienced a highside on his RC212V around midday, but re-emerged by 3pm to continue uninjured. The San Carlo Honda Gresini man was 15th on the timesheet, with fellow rookie Álvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) and Mika Kallio (Pramac Racing) both within two tenths of a second of the Italian’s best lap of 2’03.245.
During the test, MSMA representatives met at the Sepang International Circuit to discuss the future engine rules for the MotoGP class.
Back in December, following talks between MotoGP’s governing body the FIM, series rights holder Dorna Sports and the MSMA, the Grand Prix Commission agreed to change the maximum engine capacity of the MotoGP class to 1000cc for the 2012 season.
Dorna Sports CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta indicated the projected changes were received favourably, and that another meeting to be held later this month in Barcelona should allow the opportunity for further definition of the new technical rules for the premier class.