Reigning MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo riding a Yamaha was fastest on day one as the 2016 test season got off to a blistering start at Malaysia’s Sepang circuit yesterday.
With the track temperature reaching 52 degrees Celsius, Lorenzo, chasing a fourth MotoGP world championship title, overcame the tough conditions to clock 2min 00.684sec, 1.033 seconds quicker than his Italian teammate Valentino Rossi, giving a strong start for Yamaha.
Rossi, the charismatic 36-year-old, remains the biggest draw in MotoGP and is eyeing a 10th world title this year after losing out in 2015 to teammate Lorenzo amid an ugly rivalry.
Tyres and electronics are likely to be the focus of this year’s season and Lorenzo said he was pleased with the way his new Michelin tyres were performing. Michelin has replaced Bridgestone as MotoGP’s official tyre supplier from 2016.
“I can go fast. I was a second ahead of everyone,” a beaming Lorenzo told reporters.
Spain’s Dani Pedrosa, racing a Honda, was third, 1.096 seconds slower than the 28-year-old Lorenzo.
Italian Danilo Petrucci on a Ducati was fourth, 1.127 seconds slower than Lorenzo. Fellow Italian Andrea Iannone on another Ducati was fifth at 2:01.912 while Spaniard Hector Barbera, also riding for Ducati, was sixth at 2:02.002.
Honda’s double MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez was seventh-fastest, 1.594 seconds off the pace.
“We still have a (big) job to do, like being able to accelerate out of a corner faster. I am trying to learn how to ride with the Michelin tyres,” he said at the end of the first of the three days of the test session, which ends on Wednesday.
Australia’s Casey Stoner, who won the first of his two MotoGP world titles with Ducati, has returned to the Italian team for 2016 as a test rider and is expected to race in Sepang again on Tuesday.
Stoner, 30, rejoins Ducati after a five-year spell with Honda, with whom he won the 2011 world championship, four years after his first title.
From Malaysia, MotoGP riders will head to Australia for three days at Phillip Island from February 17 to 19.
After the first two tests, the premier class will head to Qatar from the second to fourth of March for their final official test.
The MotoGP world championship begins in Losail, Qatar, on March 17.
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