Valentino Rossi has set out his stall in the MotoGP class at Sepang, setting the fastest time during the first session of practice. The Fiat Yamaha rider comes to Malaysia with two aims in mind: The first, publicly admitted goal was to test how his shoulder was holding up and get some data to compare with the testing data from February, to see how his injury affects his riding - the answer to that being not very much at all. The second is surely to press home the point he made at Motegi, and take away some of the attention from Jorge Lorenzo's first championship, which the Spaniard is almost certain to secure in Malaysia.
Rossi may have set the fastest time, but he had to hold off Andrea Dovizioso to do so. The Repsol Honda rider was blisteringly fast throughout the session, ending the day a tenth behind Rossi and upholding the honor of the Repsol team while Dani Pedrosa recovers from having his collarbone plated in Spain. Five hundredths behind Dovizioso came Jorge Lorenzo, not as fast as his Fiat Yamaha teammate, but much more consistent, his eyes now much more firmly on the prize than at Motegi, where he got drawn into a fight he would have been better staying out of.
Coming off the back of two consecutive victories, Casey Stoner's weekend did not get off to such a good start, the Australian crashing his Marlboro Ducati in the first half of practice. A couple of big rear-end slides showed that there is still work to do for the Ducati team, as does Nicky Hayden's miserable 15th fastest time. Alvaro Bautista continues to do his best to persuade Suzuki to stay in the series, setting an impressive 5th fastest time during FP1. Bautista's ride looks safe, with Suzuki almost certain to field at least one bike, but paddock rumors continue to suggest that Suzuki will not support a second bike next season. An announcement is expected within a couple of days.
|10||14||Randy DE PUNIET||HONDA||2'03.539||0.815||0.062|