Honda tops stormy Sepang MotoGP test

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IOL mot pic feb29 MotoGP Sepang Stoner . The reigning World champion made the early running with a best lap of 2min01.761.

Honda works riders Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa topped the timesheets on the first day of the second official MotoGP test of 2012 at Sepang in Malaysia, before stormy tropical weather washed out much of the afternoon's testing.

The reigning World champion made the early running with a best lap of 2min01.761, set on a slippery track, 0.3sec ahead of team mate Pedrosa, before the rain came down in mid-afternoon.

Stoner packed it in for the day after just 16 laps but Pedrosa waited until the weather cleared and went out again, to continue working on finding a set-up for the new RC213V that would allow him to better handle the heavier 1000cc bike under braking.

Yamaha factory riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies completed the day third and fourth fastest, with Lorenzo testing a new engine, although the slippery track in the morning and rain in the afternoon preventing him from exploring its full potential. The pair also tried modifications to the YZR-M1's existing gearbox in search of more stability when shifting.

CHALLENGING TRACK CONDITIONS

Alvaro Bautista was the quickest satellite team rider, with a best time of 2min02.959, placing him fifth. He focused on riding position and geometry as he continued to adapt his riding style to the 1000cc machine, admitting later: “I think I will have to sacrifice corner speed in order to get more traction exiting the corner.”

IOL mot pic feb29 MotoGP Sepang Lorenzo Lorenzo tested a new engine, although the slippery track in the morning and rain in the afternoon preventing him from exploring its full potential. .

Returning from surgery just three weeks ago, Nicky Hayden finished the day sixth, with a best time of 2min03.132. He said that although he hadn't yet 100 percent recovered, he felt much better than he expected - but admitted that his plans to work on improving traction had been stymied because of the challenging track conditions.

Hayden's Ducati team mate Valentino Rossi was the first to return to the circuit after the rain stopped. He went out on wets while there was still water on the track to work on the GP12's electronic package, traction, and corner exit acceleration. His best lap from the morning of 2min03.245 placed The Doctor eighth for the day.

SEARCH FOR MORE GRIP

Yamaha Tech 3's Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso concluded the day in seventh and 11th positions, respectively, as Dovizioso struggled with a rear-brake problem that made adapting to the bigger Yamaha more difficult.

Hector Barbera was ninth; he spent the morning searching for more grip from his privateer Ducati and testing the new brake light that's required under wet conditions this year.

Just behind Barbera was rookie Stefan Bradl on a privateer Honda; with no bad 800cc habits to unlearn he said he felt confident with his progress on the litre-class bike while continuing to work on its electronic set-up.

Colin Edwards tested a new frame and a new seat for the Suter-BMW, ending the day 12th ahead of Ducati test rider Franco Battaini and Avinitia riders Ivan Silva and Yonny Hernandez.

Karel Abraham went out early in the morning but could only manage a few laps, saying the shoulder and back injuries he suffered in a crash at Jerez last week were too painful for him to ride.

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