Jorge Lorenzo is confident he will be in the hunt for victory in Sunday’s Sepang MotoGP race if he can calm down the aggressive power of his factory Yamaha YZR-M1.
The Spaniard finished a rain-hit first day in Malaysia with the third fastest time after he finished behind Repsol Honda duo Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner.
Lorenzo, who holds a 28-point lead over Pedrosa going into this weekend’s 20-lap race, clocked a best time of 2.01.934 to finish 0.161s behind Stoner in second and 0.313s off Pedrosa’s best pace.
Lorenzo, who was one of several riders not to lap on a partially damp track this afternoon, said the potential of his YZR-M1 would be much higher if he can get better acceleration out of Sepang’s slow hairpins.
He told MCN: “The grip today was not so good and much worse than the winter tests and I didn’t like the behaviour of the engine so much in the slow corners.
"It is a little bit aggressive and we need to calm down the bike by working on the electronics. At least we got on track this morning and I am in the first three and very close to Dani.”
With Stoner slotting himself in between Pedrosa and Lorenzo on the opening day timesheets, the 2010 MotoGP world champion played down the influence the Aussie might have in deciding the outcome of the championship.
If the top three remained the same on Sunday then Lorenzo’s lead would be slashed to 19-points with two races remaining, though Honda is adamant it won't issue controversial team orders to help Pedrosa win his first premier class title.
Question marks remain though on Stoner’s physical endurance in the extreme heat and humidity at Sepang.
The reigning world champion finished fifth on his comeback from a serious right ankle injury in Japan last weekend, but he tired in the race having been out of action for more than two months.
And Lorenzo added: “I waited for him to be stronger here and that’s what happened. We need to see for the race if it is different because it is a lot of laps and very demanding. But maybe he is ready to fight for the victory.”