News 23 Oct 2009

MotoGP: Lorenzo leads the way on Friday in Sepang practice


Jorge Lorenzo set the standard at Sepang on Friday afternoon, kicking off the Shell Advance Malaysian Grand Prix weekend with the fastest lap time in the first MotoGP practice.

A margin of 0.064s separated Lorenzo from second quickest participant Casey Stoner, on the weekend in which Valentino Rossi could seal the 2009 World Championship title. It was Rossi’s team-mate – who trails the Italian by 38 points in the standings – who set the pace in humid conditions however, with the ambient temperature reaching an energy-sapping 31°C.

Lorenzo set a best lap of 2’02.180 in a tight session, with the top four riders – including Rossi – all breaking the 2’03 barrier. It was the perfect start to the weekend for Lorenzo, whose crash at Phillip Island last weekend all but ended his hopes of wrestling the title from Rossi.

Stoner followed the 22 year-old Spanish pace-setter closely, with Dani Pedrosa just over half a second further down in third on the timesheet as Rossi came in fourth, registering a time 0.684s off Lorenzo’s.

Pedrosa’s Repsol Honda colleague Andrea Dovizioso completed the top five with a best lap of 2’03.142, while fellow Italian Loris Capirossi was just over 0.1s behind him.

Toni Elías (San Carlo Honda Gresini), Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro), Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Chris Vermeulen (Rizla Suzuki) were all inside the top ten.

Hiroshi Aoyama was the pace man in the 250cc class as he set a fastest lap time of 2’07.875, after the frustration of a seventh-placed finish in the red-flagged race at Phillip Island.

The Scot Honda rider received a confidence boost in an exciting session, as he bids to hold on to top spot in the World Championship standings.

Alex Debón (Aeropuerto-Castello-Blusens) was fractionally slower than Aoyama, with Ratthapark Wilairot (Thai Honda PTT SAG) riding a great practice to finish a further 0.039s behind with the third-quickest time.

Mike di Meglio was the fourth man to break the 2’08 barrier, with the championship’s third-placed rider Álvaro Bautista coming in at fifth quickest.

Reports of a dispute involving Héctor Barberá (Pepe World Team) and his team management were quickly resolved, as he emerged from his box after missing the opening ten minutes to set a best time of 2’08.285 – the sixth fastest of the session.

Mattia Pasini (Paddock GP Racing Team), Lukas Pesek (Auto Kelly – CP) and Raffaele de Rosa (Scot Racing) all came inside the top ten too, which was completed by Marco Simoncelli. The Metis Gilera rider finished 1.262s off title rival Aoyama’s pace, while there was a late crash for Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing).

Bradley Smith rode the fastest lap of the opening practice of the weekend by a margin of 0.2seconds in the 125cc class.

His time of 2’14.895 set the standard ahead of next quickest rider, Marc Márquez (Red Bull KTM), with Smith’s Bancaja Aspar team-mate and new World Champion Julián Simón third – a further 0.106s behind Márquez.

Smith, who is currently second in the championship with a 21-point lead over Nico Terol (Jack & Jones Team) – who came in fourth fastest – is determined to consolidate his position in the overall standings after seeing Simón clinch the title last weekend.

Jonas Folger (Ongetta Team I.S.P.A.) completed the top five, 0.851s adrift of Smith’s pace, with Sandro Cortese (Ajo Interwetten), Joan Olivé (Derbi Racing Team), Simone Corsi (Fontana Racing), Esteve Rabat (Blusens Aprilia) and Pol Espargaró (Derbi Racing Team) all registering top-ten times as well.