Spanish MotoGP rider Alvaro Bautista of Go & Fun Honda Gresini team in action during the MotoGP pre-season test at Sepang International Circuit near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, yesterday. LEFT: Yamaha Factory Racing rider Valentino Rossi of Italy powers his bike during the first day of the pre-season test.
SEPANG, Malaysia: Honda’s Alvaro Bautista posted the fastest time on day one of a test session in Malaysia yesterday, as MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez missed the practice with a broken leg.
Honda rider Marquez had torn up the Sepang circuit at a test session earlier this month, topping the timesheets through all three days and signalling he plans a spirited defence of his crown this year.
But the Spanish rider is expected to be out of action for a few weeks after breaking his leg during a dirt-track training session in his home country last week.
His compatriot Bautista topped the timesheet in 2 minutes 00.848 seconds on Wednesday, while fellow Spaniard Aleix Espargaro on a Yamaha was second fastest at 2:00.900. Spanish MotoGP rookie Pol Espargaro, the younger brother of Aleix, was third quickest, 0.151 seconds off the pace. Italy’s Andrea Dovizioso on a Ducati was fourth. Riders, however, complained of a dusty track and poor tyre traction which meant they were unable to get close to the track record set three weeks ago by Marquez. Former world champion Jorge Lorenzo of Spain was fifth in 2:01.158 with Yamaha teammate and nine-time Italian world champion Valentino Rossi seventh, 0.501 seconds off the pace.
An unhappy Lorenzo lamented that he was unable to go fast enough.
“The track was very dusty. There was oil on the track near turn one,” he told reporters. “The tyres do not give me confidence. It is scary to ride on them. We say the tyre is dangerous,” he added.
Marquez’s teammate and fellow Spaniard Dani Pedrosa was sixth fastest in 2:01.160. Marquez, 21, last year became the youngest rider ever to win the world title and the first rookie in 35 years.
He will likely also miss testing at Phillip Island in Australia next week and will be rushing to get fit before the season-opening Qatar GP next month.
Riders come to Sepang early each year for a pair of test sessions to put bikes and equipment through their paces on the tight-turning and often sweltering Sepang circuit in preparation for the coming season. The current session ends tomorrow.
A three-day session follows at Phillip Island from March 3, followed by another at Qatar’s Losail circuit before the new season kicks off at Losail on March 23. Malaysia will host the championship in October 26.AFP