The rain that held off yesterday finally came to Sepang on Friday, disrupting testing during the morning and at the end of the day. The rain in the morning combined with the limit on engines to persuade most of the riders to sit in the garage, or restrict their laps to a minimum. The track started to dry out at lunchtime, and from then, all 17 MotoGP riders, along with a couple of Yamaha test pilots, got to work on their testing program. By the time the rain came around 5pm, it was Valentino Rossi who had set the fastest lap, finishing ahead of Casey Stoner and Rossi's Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo. Dani Pedrosa completed the top four, the Aliens still clearly a breed apart in the MotoGP paddock.
While both Rossi and Stoner finished in the same positions as yesterday, both Jorge Lorenzo and especially Dani Pedrosa made a huge leap forward. Lorenzo jumped from 5th spot to 3rd, though he did not close the gap to his Fiat Yamaha teammate. Dani Pedrosa, on the other hand, closed the gap by over half a second, while working on the all-new Honda RC212V. Given that the bike has new Ohlins suspension, new electronics, a new chassis and a number of swingarms, there would appear to be plenty of room for improvement once the Repsol Honda team find the right setup for the bike.
After a difficult start on Thursday, Ben Spies was back in the swing of things and in the kind of form he had previously shown at Valencia. The Texan Tech 3 rider finished in 5th spot and under half a second back from Dani Pedrosa. Pedrosa's Repsol Honda teammate, Andrea Dovizioso, came tantalizingly close to matching Spies, but fell just a few thousandths short, while the other Tech 3 Texan Colin Edwards came in a couple tenths behind Dovizioso and a hundredth ahead of Ducati's Nicky Hayden.
While Spies was the fastest of the rookies, Pramac Ducati's Aleix Espargaro was next quickest, four tenths back in 9th. Mapfre Aspar's Hector Barbera was the next rookie, finishing in 12th ahead of Hiroshi Aoyama (14th), Marco Simoncelli (15th) and Alvaro Baustista (16th).
The riders now head back home for a couple of weeks, before returning to Sepang at the end of the month, for the second of the two-day tests here at Sepang.
Times on Friday, courtesy of GPOne.com:
|13||Randy de Puniet||Honda||2'03.043||2.118||0.011||30||48|
|18||Yamaha Test Rider||Yamaha||2'05.803||4.878||2.444||23||29|
|19||Yamaha Test Rider||Yamaha||2'06.621||5.696||0.818||8||20|