Sepang MotoGP test: Pedrosa fastest on day one in Malaysia
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa has drawn first blood of the 2018 MotoGP season, setting the fastest time on day one of official testing at Sepang to lead 2017 championship runner-up Andrea Dovizioso by a little over a third of a second.
Movistar Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi held top spot for a majority of the afternoon as rain in the morning prevented any dry running. The Doctor set a 2’00.233 on his 44th lap of 50 but he eventually slid down to sixth place as the last-lap time attacks began in earnest.
Pedrosa scorched into top spot with a 1’59.427 on his RC213V while Dovizioso laid down a 1’59.770 for second. The Italian’s works Ducati team-mate Jorge Lorenzo leapt into third with his final lap, setting a 1’59.802 to trail Dovi by 0.032s on the 2018 Desmosedici.
That lap demoted Pramac Ducati’s Jack Miller to fourth. The Australian had also bunged in a soft rear to jet himself into the top five, putting in a 2’00.178 but he was demoted a further place by team-mate Danilo Petrucci, who stole fourth with a 2’00.123.
Despite wrapping up half an hour early, Rossi managed to stay ahead of reigning champion Marc Marquez who finished in seventh and 0.863s slower than his team-mate while Johann Zarco, who has the same spec Monster Yamaha M1 as he tested at Valencia, finished in eighth. Cal Crutchlow has a selection of three Hondas to use this week and he has focused so far on electronics work. The LCR Honda man ended in ninth with Pol Espargaro in tenth.
Alex Rins took his Ecstar Suzuki to 11th place with class rookie Taka Nakagami in 12th, 1.237s off the pace. Maverick Vinales slipped from third place down to 13th as the soft-tyre men went to work while Aleix Espargaro and Tito Rabat, on the Avintia Ducati, completed the top 15.
Andrea Iannone had a crash which curtailed his effort and he ended in 16th, one ahead of Bradley Smith’s KTM. It was a tough day for Scott Redding, who ended 2.535s off the pace and behind Suzuki test rider Sylvain Guintoli. Yonny Hernandez was just a tenth slower while Tom Luthi underwent his shakedown on the Estrella Galicia Honda and was 4.3s slower than Pedrosa.