Testing resumed after the long winter layoff for the official test ban, and the so eagerly-awaited first day of testing proved to be a tumultuous and drama-ridden affair. From the start, it was clear that the riders were having a tough first day back at work, with several crashes throughout the day.
Valentino Rossi was the first faller, crashing out around 10 am, having only just gotten started. Rossi later put his fall down to a lack of concentration, a remarkable confession from the Doctor, who appeared at the M1 launch just days previously with a new hair cut and an air of gritty determination. Rossi was lucky to escape comparatively uninjured, as the crash was a fairly nasty highside, as the images from SportsMalaysia.net show:
Rossi was followed into the dirt later in the day by his team mate Jorge Lorenzo, the 250 champion also getting away relatively unscathed. But the big story was Dani Pedrosa's crash at the end of the day. The young Spaniard, who had crashed earlier in the day, fell badly after his 2008 Honda RC212V burst into flames with Pedrosa still aboard, in scenes reminiscent of Colin Edwards bailing from the Aprilia RS3 Cube in 2003. Pedrosa was not as lucky as Edwards, though, the Spanish hope suffering a hand injury, and being taken to a local hospital to be examined for a suspected fracture in his hand. Pedrosa, who had his sights set on conquering the championship this year, is unlikely to take any further part in this week's test, and could be out for several weeks.
As if the events of the day weren't dramatic enough, there was more surprise to come. After Pedrosa had had the fastest time for most of the day, it was the Frenchman Randy de Puniet who ended up topping the timesheets, nearly half a second faster than Pedrosa's fastest time, and 0.7 seconds faster than third fastest man Chris Vermeulen on the Suzuki. De Puniet, who surprised most observers by jumping ship from Kawasaki to join LCR Honda, has clearly settled in well with his new team, helped by being reunited with Lucio Cecchinello, the man he rode for for several years in the 250 class.
World Champion Casey Stoner struggled early in the day with suspected electronic problems, only completing 6 laps by 4 pm. By the time the session completed, Stoner had put in some 36 laps, setting the 5th fastest time behind former team mate Loris Capirossi. Capirossi must be delighted that he left Ducati for Suzuki at the end of last season, as the Suzukis sat in the top 4 times, while the Ducatis, with the honorable exception of Casey Stoner, languished at the bottom of the timesheets, with Marco Melandri once again setting a dismal 18th time.
Testing continues tomorrow, hopefully with less drama than today.
|Pos.||Rider||Bike||Time||Fast Lap||Total Laps|
|1||Randy de Puniet||Honda||2'01.377||65||68|
|14||Alex de Angelis||Honda||2'03.301||47||47|