Lorenzo Makes Bright Start in Hazy Malaysia

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Jorge Lorenzo struck the first blow in a potentially decisive Malaysian Grand Prix weekend by topping Friday practice at Sepang. Haze, caused by forest fires in Indonesia, and explosive comments from Valentino Rossi on Thursday had dominated the build-up to Sunday’s penultimate round but Lorenzo did his talking on track, edging out Dani Pedrosa today.

Pedrosa had been the fastest man for the majority of second practice but a switch to the medium rear tyre saw Lorenzo sneak ahead late on and the Yamaha rider was encouraged by his single lap performance, as well as the race simulation earlier in the afternoon.

“We are working very well on the setting of the bike. We have a good pace both with the old and the new tyre, we just need to improve some details, but overall it‘s good. This afternoon it was very hot. It will depend on tomorrow‘s weather, but I think the bike can be further improved so I can better my lap time.”

The top two were closely followed by Marc Marquez, who was accused in the pre-race press conference of deliberately favouring Lorenzo in Australia last Sunday. The world champion appeared to shrug off those comments, ending the day just 0.226s off the pace in third with Phillip Island star Andrea Iannone fourth, once again ahead Rossi after the championship leader failed to improve on the softer rubber.

Cal Crutchlow was next up in sixth ahead of Aleix Espargaro and Andrea Dovizioso while Scott Redding and Danilo Petrucci round out the top ten heading into FP3. Many riders will start Saturday in serious danger of missing Q2, in particular the Tech 3 Yamaha riders who could only manage 13th and 14th today.



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