This coming weekend will likely see two World Championships decided on Sunday, and the MotoGP World Championship is one of them. Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi has a very good chance of sewing up his record ninth World Championship (and an incredible seventh in the premier MotoGP class, including the last 500GP two-stroke season of ‘01) at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia. With his main title rival Jorge Lorenzo taking himself out of the running by ramming into the back of Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden in the first turn of last weekend’s Australian GP and crashing out of the race, all Rossi has to do even if Lorenzo wins this weekend is finish at least fourth.
Here are the results for the MotoGP Friday practice session. Qualifying begins Saturday afternooon after a one-hour second free practice session in the morning.
1. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Yamaha 2:02.180
2. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati 2:02.244
3. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Honda 2:02.758
4. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Yamaha 2:02.864
5. Andrea Dovisioso (ITA) Honda 2:03.142
6. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Suzuki 2:03.253
7. Toni Elias (SPA) Honda 2:03.294
8. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati 2:03.426
9. Colin Edwards (USA) Yamaha 2:03.739
10. Chris Vermeulen (AUS) Suzuki 2:03.763
With nothing to lose after...
With nothing to lose after crashing out of the Australian GP last weekend, Fiat Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo is going all out to win at Sepang.
After his crucial mistake last Sunday, Lorenzo knows he has nothing to lose, so he’s going for win. "I was riding quite aggressively today and I felt good on the bike right from the start,” said the Majorca native, “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."
"The lap times are surprisingly good considering the track conditions, which are definitely suffering from the heat and feel much less grippy than usual here,” said Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner after his second-place position in practice. “I’m happy with our pace and with my physical condition; even though it was hard work out there and I was tired by the end of the session, I don’t think I was any worse off than anybody else and it is a different world compared to the way I felt at hot races earlier in the year. Having said that I didn’t feel at all comfortable with the setting on either bike. Every time I went out there was a small problem holding us back – at first it was with the front chattering and folding, then we lost grip on the rear. There was no use staying out there on a bike that needed to be set up better so I had to keep coming in, which disrupted our rhythm and didn’t give me chance to establish any kind of feeling. We made progress step by step but we need a better base to start off with tomorrow in order to prepare properly for the race.”
Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa...
Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa continued his form as one of the top four MotoGP riders by finishing in third after the first practice session at Sepang.
“As expected, it was really hot out there and the first session for this grand prix is always the toughest because it takes a little time to acclimatize,” said Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa about the usual stifling Malaysian weather. “[But] by Sunday, the heat will be no problem. The track was a little dirty which affected the grip, but that's also normal for Sepang and it will improve through the weekend. The lap times are already quite competitive because we test at this circuit and all the teams have plenty of set-up data even before we arrive. I'm not worried about being half a second back from the fastest time at this stage - it's not so important and we have some areas to work on to improve things. To achieve good stability under braking is the key area for us and we'll be working to make some improvements to the set-up for tomorrow.”
Fiat Yamaha's Valentino Rossi...
Fiat Yamaha's Valentino Rossi was atop the practice leaderboard right away and held it for half an hour, but was dropped to fourth by the end of the session. He's not worried.
Rossi wasn’t concerned about being dropped down to fourth at the end of a session that saw him atop the leaderboard for the first half-hour. "I am quite happy about today, even if the time and the position isn't perfect,” said the eight-time World Champion, who was primarily concerned with end-of-race setup, when the tires are worn and less grippy. “We worked mainly with old tires 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 tires 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."
Ducati Marlboro's Nicky Hayden...
Ducati Marlboro's Nicky Hayden finished the first Sepang practice session in eighth position, but feels positive about the start to his weekend.
Hayden finished the session in eighth place, but he felt his pace was a lot closer to the front than it appears. “I know my position isn’t great but this is still the best Friday I’ve had in a while and we’re only just over a second off the front, which isn’t that much around this circuit, so I’m pleased,” said Hayden. “We made a change to the electronics today, which has improved my feeling for the bike, and I was able to lap consistently inside the top ten throughout the session, whereas usually I’m much further off in the first session. Obviously there are a lot of areas we need to improve, like every Friday, but in particular we need to look at why I am fourth from bottom on the top speed charts. That’s strange because we know we have a strong bike so we’ll try and fix that tonight because I’d certainly rather be fourth from the top! In general it’s a good start and I’m eager to see how much we can improve with ninety minutes on track tomorrow.”
Monster Tech 3 Yamaha's Colin...
Monster Tech 3 Yamaha's Colin Edwards ended up in ninth position after the first practice session at Sepang, blaming the new MotoGP engine rules for the lack of speed.
Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Colin Edwards was down farther on the leaderboard than usual at this part of the race weekend, although he laid much of the blame on the new engine restrictions that were imposed back at the Czech GP in August. “I feel good on the bike and I'm riding as hard as I can but my bike felt pretty slow out there today to be 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 tire really quick, and with these high ground temperatures it is wearing the tire 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.”