Gearing up for MotoGP season

Spaniards Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa dominate in Sepang as riders prepare for opening MotoGP race in Qatar.

    Gearing up for MotoGP season
    Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo (L) is confident of beating his best time at the Sepang circuit [AFP]

    World champion Jorge Lorenzo ended rival Dani Pedrosa's unbeaten streak in pre-season MotoGP testing after pipping the fellow Spaniard on Wednesday at Malaysia's Sepang circuit.

    Three-time MotoGP runner-up Pedrosa had swept to the top of the timesheet across the first three-day session early this month, and also led the pack on Tuesday on his lightning-fast Honda.

    But Lorenzo clocked 2 minutes 00.282 seconds on a scorching hot second day of testing, and consistently dipped under the 2 minutes 1 second mark despite "playing with the settings" across his 58 laps.

    "I'm not 100 percent happy because we tried to improve the traction but we lose balance. We spin a bit too much in the exit from the corners"

    Nine-time champ Valentino Rossi

    Although Pedrosa worked hard throughout a cooler afternoon session, he could not better his earlier time which was 0.369 seconds off the pace.

    Lorenzo, 25, said he was close to his best of 2 minutes 00.19 seconds at Sepang and may beat it on Thursday after his Yamaha improved on acceleration, where the team continues to lag behind the Hondas.

    "I'm very satisfied with the pace, because it was mostly 00 - very positive," the two-time MotoGP champion said.

    Nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi also praised his Yamaha teammate's consistency, calling it a "strong motivation" for him after trailing in fifth spot, 0.783 seconds behind.

    Rossi, who put in 63 laps Wednesday, said he struggled to improve on his lap times after "paying a high price" for more traction.

    "I'm not 100 percent happy because we tried to improve the traction but we lose balance. We spin a bit too much in the exit from the corners," he said.

    On the Marc 

    Honda rider Pedrosa, chasing his first MotoGP title, said he tried to learn more about his setup, and his timing was hampered as one bike was under repair.

    "Not everything was positive but we got some inputs so it's okay," the Spaniard said, adding that he was more confident of his chances as compared to last year's pre-season.

    His rookie teammate Marc Marquez continued to impress, finishing fourth fastest 0.710 seconds behind Lorenzo after "trying many things" to better understand "the reaction of the bike with me".

    British rider Cal Crutchlow broke up the dominance of the big teams by placing third, 0.625 seconds off the pace.

    But the Ducatis of Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden continued to lag behind at eighth and ninth respectively, both about 1.5 seconds off the pace.

    The team's Dutch test rider Michele Pirro worked on a new chassis, according to MotoGP.com, which could be the game-changer Ducati needs before the season-opening race in five weeks.

    The second test session at Sepang ends on Thursday.

    A third session will be held in Jerez from March 23 to 25 before the opening round of the MotoGP world championship in Qatar under floodlights on April 7.

    Malaysia will host round 15 on October 13.

    SOURCE: AFP


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