Jorge Lorenzo photo courtesy MotoGPEnlarge Photo
MotoGP got into the swing of the 2012 season with testing of its new 1000-cc engines, new CRT teams and new riders at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia. With reigning titleholder and Honda rider Casey Stoner sitting out the test sessions after pulling a muscle in his back while warming up for his first ride, 2010 champion Jorge Lorenzo topped the timesheets on his Factory Yamaha.
The new Honda has been developed to champion Stoner's specifications and, with its No. 1 plate affixed, did make it onto the track for four laps with Honda test rider Kousuke Akiyoshi at the controls. Stoner stated, after inspecting the motorcycle, that changes made to the bike since the November test were impressive.
“I’m very happy with today," Lorenzo said. "For the first ride on the bike in some time, it’s been very positive. Yamaha has worked very hard over the winter for this M1. I can see very easily where I have to adapt my riding style for the bike and I can see a lot of potential. We have many areas where we can improve so I’m looking forward to beginning again tomorrow."
The track was damp in the morning so riders waited for clearing weather just before noon. Lorenzo led the first half of the day and then completed the dual sessions with a lap of 1:01.657 on his new YZR-M1. This lap was 0.346 seconds faster than his closest rival, Honda's Dani Pedrosa on the RC213V. Cal Crutchlow of Monster Yamaha Tech 3 was third while Lorenzo's teammate Ben Spies took fourth place. Valentino Rossi was fifth on the Ducati GP12.
Rossi completed 43 laps aboard the totally redesigned Desmosedici. This was the first public appearance of the new Ducati; teammate Nicky Hayden gathered first impressions on the bike while lapping 10th quickest on the day.
"I'm happy because the first impressions are important and already in the first laps I could tell that I like the bike," Rossi said. "Ducati did a good job in just a short time; the bike is beautiful, but more importantly it's nice to ride. The riding position has improved a lot and it's better on braking and corner entry."
Valentino Rossi photo courtesy MotoGPEnlarge Photo
Andrea Dovisioso on the second Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine was sixth, focusing on riding with his newly plated collarbone and working on engine management. Hector Barbera on the Pramac Racing Team Ducati GP12 took eighth place while Alvaro Bautista completed his first test date on the San Carlo Honda Gresini Team motorcycle in ninth.
In the CRT area of the paddock, NGM Mobile Forward Racing's Colin Edwards put in 12 laps on the BMW-Suter, much of his energy going into electronic development. He was ahead of Avintia Racing's Ivan Silva, who also made 12 laps while test rider Jordi Torres put away 42 laps at he controls of the BQR-FTR machine.
In all, 17 motorcycles took to the track. Pedrosa completed the most laps, 48, while Stoner's replacement took the least number, four. Testing continues on the Malaysian Sepang International Circuit on Wednesday.