MotoGP Sepang test: James Toseland happier and faster in Sepang

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James Toseland was a much happier figure in the Sepang paddock tonight as he made a big improvement on only his second day of testing for the Tech 3 Yamaha squad in Malaysia.

  • Click here to see James Toseland's crash on day one of the Sepang test

Frustrated by a small crash and bad weather on his Yamaha YZR-M1 debut yesterday, the British rider made big strides in adapting to a MotoGP 800cc machine following his switch from World Superbikes.

He ended day two with a best time of 2.04.278 set on the 53rd of a mentally and physically draining 60-lap stint today, which was a massive 1.2sec faster than yesterday.

And he was only 0.257s adrift of fellow Yamaha MotoGP rookie Jorge Lorenzo, and a fraction over two seconds off the fastest pace set by new factory Kawasaki rider John Hopkins.

Heavy overnight rain disrupted the early part of the second day with heavy cloud cover all morning preventing the new track surface from drying rapidly.

The track opened at 9am local time, but it wasn’t until shortly after midday that anybody bothered to venture out, and first out of the pits was an eager James Toseland, desperate to crack on with the tough job of adapting to the YZR-M1.

He needed just 19 laps to beat his best time from yesterday, and once he tried a new harder construction front Michelin tyre, he instantly dropped into the 2min 4sec bracket.

James Toseland logged 12 laps in the 2min 4sec bracket, and said: “For only my second day we’ve made good progress. Once we started to chuck a few tyres at it, it came together and I was consistently around the low to mid 4s today and felt pretty comfortable.

“The problem is everything is all still going round in my head. I haven’t deleted anything yet. I’m still thinking about it all, which is tiring mentally.

“As soon as I get really used to the bike I can forget about the braking style or cornering and just do things sub-consciously and it will be a lot easier.”

James Toseland at least found a big step with a new Michelin front tyre, which instantly solved severe problems in the first corner, which caused his small tumble yesterday just six laps into his premier class career.

“I started on a front tyre that we had a lot of problems with yesterday. If I had too much lean angle it was going every time.

“That’s what happened in the crash and I was on the same front this morning and five times in the first corner if I had a little bit too much lean angle it went in exactly the same place I crashed.

“I knew then there was a problem. But I was ready for it this time and saved it four times on my knee and came in and said ‘we are going to have to change the front.’

“We did and I was instantly a second faster straightaway on the new front. Because we were doing quite a lot of chassis work we just left the tyres for a bit to get used to it. The front was just a stronger construction.”

James Toseland was boosted by the fact he had lapped so closely to double world 250 champion Jorge Lorenzo, but added that he had deliberately not followed the Spaniard or any other rider to gather tips and information on riding style.

“The last thing I want to do is hang about and wait for people because that pisses people off at this level. I’ve got a lot to learn and I need to learn it myself.

“What was good about Jorge was he was doing the same speed as me. At one point I was behind him and God it was nice. There are only 19 guys here but they are all doers.

“And to have somebody in front of you doing similar times and at points I was a little bit quicker you feel like you are part of it. It was just a nice gauge.

“It’s just nice to do something similar to someone who has been promoted into the factory Yamaha team,” said James Toseland, who also got his first taste of the punishing Malaysia heat and humidity.

He said: “I did 60 laps today and that’s enough. I’ve ridden in hot conditions but nothing like this. When you are not used to it you need experience of places like this.

“The humidity is unbelievable. I was bone dry in the office and went out and was talking to one of the mechanics and the next thing I’m wet through.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt