Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa led the opening MotoGP free practice leaderboard at Sepang today with his time from the opening session standing due to torrential rain soaking the track just before the start of the second period.
Race direction had to postpone the start of free practice two due to the amount of standing water which caused the BMW M3 safety car to aquaplane at least twice so all the times from the morning were the ones that counted - unless it leathers down on Sunday.
Pedrosa’s 2’01.379 on his penultimate lap of free practice one was just 0.014s faster than Aleix Espargaro, who picked himself up from a light front-ender to lap at 2’01.393.
The pair are a little over a second slower than reigning champion Marc Marquez’ outright lap record with Jorge Lorenzo only a further 0.023s down the road.
Marquez, who missed the second set of pre-season tests after breaking his leg, was fourth and three-tenths slower than his HRC team-mate while Stefan Bradl was only fractions off the Spaniard’s time in fifth.
Phillip Island winner Valentino Rossi placed sixth in a 2’01.842 with the works Ducati pairing of Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow in eighth and ninth with Yonny Hernandez and Pol Espargaro completing the top ten.
Bradley Smith, still revelling in his debut podium last weekend, was 12th with Scott Redding 15th. Michael Laverty ended in 20th and 3.2s off the pace.
In the wet second session, Lorenzo opened a two-second gap early doors but was closed down to a quarter of a second by Marquez. The Yamaha man posted a 2’14.503 on his eighth lap with Pedrosa in third and a second off the pace.
Dovizioso was fourth with Aleix Espargaro fifth. Rossi was was down in 15th after putting in 12 laps while Crutchlow, in tenth, was the leading Brit and displayed a totally shot rear tyre by purposely spinning the rear in front of a big screen.
The Isle of Man resident completed 12 laps in the wet so that is an indication of how long the rear is lasting. Marquez also had some spin problems during his practice start with 13 laps on his rear. Andrea Iannone crashed and limped back to his garage holding his arm in a broken collarbone style.