Dani Pedrosa got off to a lightning start at the Malaysian Grand Prix as he comfortably set the pace in first practice at Sepang. With their greatest threat, Jorge Lorenzo, taken out of the equation with a finger injury, the quartet of factory Hondas duly dominated on a circuit which was already expected to favour them.
Apart from the very first flying lap for each rider, Honda held the top spot throughout with Marco Simoncelli leading on a 2:04.258 before Casey Stoner took a second off him moments later. Andrea Dovizioso was the first man into the 2:02s with just over ten minutes gone but Pedrosa was clearly the man to beat early on, setting a 2:02.429.
That gave the Spaniard a four tenth advantage over his teammates but he increased it to almost a second next time around, going quicker than the circuit record on a 2:01.916. Dovizioso closed the gap to 0.674s with a quarter of an hour to go only for Stoner to push him down to third in the dying seconds. The new world champion couldn't get anywhere near Pedrosa though and finished the opening session six tenths adrift.
Marco Simoncelli completed the factory Honda lock-out with fourth place with Alvaro Bautista leading the chasing pack in fifth. Ben Spies, despite riding in obvious pain and discomfort, led the factory Yamaha challenge in sixth ahead of seventh placed Randy de Puniet on the quickest Ducati.
Colin Edwards was eighth quickest, just in front of Hiroshi Aoyama while Valentino Rossi was the quickest factory Ducati down in tenth, a full 2.3 seconds off the pace.
On his return to the series, John Hopkins finished a solid 14th on the second Rizla Suzuki, one place in front of Cal Crutchlow while debutant Katsuyuki Nakasuga ended up in 17th after a fall at the final corner.
The only man behind him on the leaderboard was Hector Barbera. The Spaniard is back aboard the Mapfre Aspar Ducati after injuring his collarbone in Japan but he only completed six laps in FP1 before heading to the medical centre, putting his participation in the rest of the weekend on doubt.
Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix – Free Practice 1 Result
|1||Dani Pedrosa||SPA||Honda||Repsol Honda Team||2:01.916|
|2||Casey Stoner||AUS||Honda||Repsol Honda Team||+0.641|
|3||Andrea Dovizioso||ITA||Honda||Repsol Honda Team||+0.674|
|4||Marco Simoncelli||ITA||Honda||San Carlo Honda Gresini||+1.395|
|5||Alvaro Bautista||SPA||Suzuki||Rizla Suzuki MotoGP||+1.642|
|6||Ben Spies||USA||Yamaha||Yamaha Factory Racing||+1.670|
|7||Randy de Puniet||FRA||Ducati||Pramac Racing Team||+1.844|
|8||Colin Edwards||USA||Yamaha||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||+1.862|
|9||Hiroshi Aoyama||JAP||Honda||San Carlo Honda Gresini||+1.992|
|10||Valentino Rossi||ITA||Ducati||Ducati Team||+2.364|
|11||Karel Abraham||CZE||Ducati||Cardion AB Motoracing||+2.429|
|12||Nicky Hayden||USA||Ducati||Ducati Team||+2.558|
|13||Loris Capirossi||ITA||Ducati||Pramac Racing Team||+2.605|
|14||John Hopkins (WC)||USA||Suzuki||Rizla Suzuki MotoGP||+2.693|
|15||Cal Crutchlow||GBR||Yamaha||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||+2.750|
|16||Toni Elias||SPA||Honda||LCR Honda MotoGP||+2.974|
|17||Katsuyuki Nakasuga||JAP||Yamaha||Yamaha Factory Racing||+3.474|
|18||Hector Barbera||SPA||Ducati||Mapfre Aspar Team MotoGP||+4.283|