Valentino Rossi’s long-awaited return to action in 2009 started in nightmare fashion when the Italian crashed on only his fifth lap in Sepang.
But despite that early setback, the Italian quickly recovered and ended the opening day with the third quickest time as he clocked a best lap of 2.02.324 in his 31 laps.
Rossi, who was limping heavily and sometimes walking with the aid of a crutch after he suffered cuts in his left hand and foot following a fall into a plate glass table last Saturday night, was 0.455s slower than compatriot Loris Capirossi.
The 2009 campaign was only five laps old though when Rossi lost the front end of his new 2009 factory Fiat Yamaha YZR-M1 at the slow second corner.
He escaped aggravating the cuts to his foot and wedding ring finger and he seemed a little perplexed when MCN asked him what had been the cause in the paddock night.
“I am not sure, “said the 29-year-old, who didn’t blame a new patch of black tarmac at the second corner where factory Suzuki rider Chris Vermeulen also crashed on his first exit from pitlane.
“It was a very slow crash, probably only about 55ks and I’m really sure what happened.
"The track wasn’t wet but some patches of the track were quite slippery and the grip wasn’t as good as it was for the race, even though the temperature was almost the same, “added Rossi, who has six stitches in his foot and hand.
Rossi said his injuries had not troubled him as much as he had feared, but it had proved to be a slight distraction in typically searing Malaysia heat.
“I wasn’t in too much pain but I realise now how I lucky I was when I fell into the table. It could have been much, much worse because the cuts didn’t damage any tendons, although it was very scary with a lot of blood, “said Rossi, who was satisfied with the performance of the 2009 YZR-M1.
“The engine is an improvement, especially with acceleration, but we have some more new parts to try tomorrow to help with acceleration out of the corners. We have quite a different chassis now to suit the Bridgestone tyres and I am happy with that, “said Rossi.