Jorge Lorenzo shook off last Sunday’s disappointment and got straight down to business at the Sepang International Circuit today, finishing the first free practice session in first place. His fellow Fiat Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi, who is looking to wrap up the championship this Sunday, was fourth fastest on a typically hot and humid day in Malaysia.
Rossi and Lorenzo were first and second for most of the first half of the session, both quickly finding a good rhythm on their M1s around the 5.548km circuit despite the oppressive heat. Casey Stoner took control in the last ten minutes but some quick last-minute laps from 22-year-old Lorenzo saw him move to the top of the timesheets and finish the practice 0.064 seconds ahead of the Australian despite some pain in his little finger – a hangover form Sunday’s crash.
Rossi ended the day 0.684 seconds down on his team-mate but is confident that the information gathered today will enable him to make a step forward tomorrow morning. Today marked ten years to the day since the Italian won the second world championship of his career, in the 250cc class at the Rio Grand Prix in 1999.
Position: 1st Time: 2’02.180 Laps: 23
“I was riding quite aggressively today and I felt good on the bike right from the start, so I am very happy about this after what happened last weekend. It’s very hot and it’s really hard work to ride out there, but I feel okay. Unfortunately I have some pain in my finger where I hurt it on Sunday, it’s not too bad but the cut is right on the knuckle, so it’s a bit painful when I have to bend it to brake. Anyway, like I said on Sunday it could be a lot worse! I love riding at this track despite the heat and our bike is working well so I am hopeful for a good weekend.”
Position: 4th Time: 2’02.864 Laps: 23
“I am quite happy about today, even if the time and the position isn’t perfect. We worked mainly with old tyres to understand the nature of the bike when it’s sliding, which is important here, but actually my pace was very consistent and I think we can make another step tomorrow. It seems that Bridgestone have brought good tyres here, they are working very well despite the very hot temperatures and the fact that the track is a little bit dirty today. We still need to find a little bit more grip so we will look to improve the setting of the bike for this in the morning – it’s going to be very important to be on the front row for Sunday. I think the race will be very hard and we will have to take care to prepare properly and drink a lot of water because it is very, very hot.”
“Today was generally good for us and we felt confident, like we have in all the sessions this season apart from at Phillip Island. It was important today to check Jorge’s physical condition and his finger after last Sunday, but luckily it seems to be not so bad. We have tested all the tyres and we’ve collected some data which we hope will help us to improve our setting further tomorrow, when we will try to build on this good start.”
“We’ve tried to use this first session to get as much information as possible; we’ve worked on many different settings to help us to understand what might be important tomorrow and on Sunday. We were faster at the start and less so later – the other riders made an improvement – but now we have a lot of data and we just need to put it all together in order to improve our pace tomorrow.”
Colin Edwards and James Toseland are both confident they can make major improvements after a difficult start to their preparations for Sunday’s Malaysian MotoGP race.
The Sepang circuit typically poses the toughest examination of man and machine on the MotoGP calendar with sweltering hot temperatures and high humidity key features at the Malaysian GP.
Today was no exception with temperatures peaking at 31 degrees and ground temperatures reaching 46 degrees, though heavy cloud cover prevented conditions from reaching the extremes often experience d at Sepang and the best lap times were just a fraction off record pace.
Texan Edwards posted a best time of 2.03.739 to finish ninth quickest, the 35-year-old searching to improve edge grip on his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 machine.
British rider Toseland was a further six places back, the 28-year-old steering his YZR-M1 to a best lap time of 2.05.218. Toseland was also striving to find more edge grip to cope with the fast and sweeping nature of the 5.548km circuit.
Sunday’s 21-lap race is the penultimate round of the 2009 MotoGP world championship, with Edwards still firmly in the hunt for a top five overall placing, and Toseland in contention for seventh position in the rankings.
Colin Edwards 9th 2.03.739 – 22 laps
“I feel good on the bike and I’m riding as hard as I can but my bike felt pretty slow out there today if I’m being honest. I know this track like the back of my hand because we have come here so many times to race and test and we’ve got a particular gearbox setting where I know exactly what is going to happen on the track. But we’ve got to change the gearing tomorrow because I was braking so much later than normal because I just wasn’t carrying the speed down the straight. The problem it gave me was that to make up any time you’ve got to ride much faster in the corners. But that means you wear the side of the tyre really quick, and with these high ground temperatures it is wearing the tyre much faster than I want. I’ll sit down with my guys at Tech 3 tonight and see what we can come up with and I’m still confident of a positive weekend.”
James Toseland 15th 2.05.218 – 20 laps
“It has been a tough start but I knew it would b e because I was running an old engine today and that had a big impact on our performance. For the rest of the weekend we’ll have a fresher motor in that should help because I was quite far down the speed charts. But I was struggling for side grip this afternoon. I’m running more corner speed to make up for the loss in acceleration and that is wearing the rear tyre quite quickly. And during that session we couldn’t find the side grip I needed to go faster. We’ve gained a lot of data though and I’m sure with a few ideas that my guys at Tech 3 have, I’ll be in better shape tomorrow.”