|4 title fighters this season, perhaps?
The prototype MotoGP bikes took to the Sepang track for the first time today (or yesterday, if you’re a time difference pedant) since the end of 2012 for the first official test of 2013. It was also the first time that fans, teams, the media and most importantly of all, Rossi himself would get to see how well the Italian can ride an M1 on a dry track. Rossi finished the day in 4th behind pocket-rocket-general-wonderkid Marquez, Lorenzo in second and Pedrosa at the top of the time sheets.
During the course of the day, Rossi completed 56 laps with a best time of 2.01.584, under half a second off Pedrosa’s time. While Jorge, who did 58 laps, bested with a 2.01.165, a mere 0.008 from Pedrosa. However, like with yesterday’s CRT test, all times should be taken with a pinch of salt in terms of showing true potential, given the fact that the riders haven’t ridden their bikes in over 2 months and mainly, because it’s the first day of testing. Despite this, we can safely say that Rossi has not ‘lost his touch’ after spending two dismal years on the Ducati.
The Italian was full of joy on his first day out this year, with many observers of the test exclaiming how different he looks riding a bike his comfortable with, compared with the last 2 years. Rossi confirmed this himself: “I’m very happy about the first day of testing with the M1. After 2 seasons away I was able to come back on the bike and remember the good feeling I always had with it”…. “It’s just the first test but the potential is high and I am in a good position, I am in fourth place but not far from the other 3 guys.”
His team mate expressed equal happiness with his own performance today along with finding it easier to adjust to riding the M1 after 2 months away, compared with the 2012 Sepang test. The Spaniard also acknowledged that even though there have been more improvements to the Yamaha this year, top speed is still not their “strongest point”. He went on to say: “I think now at this point consistency is one of my strongest points and I hope to continue that this year.“
You can view the rest of the times set on day 1 of Sepang here.