Sepang test: Rossi and Toseland crash out on day one of MotoGP test

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YAMAHA stars Valentino Rossi and James Toseland kicked off the Sepang MotoGP tests with a crash bill for their teams.

James Toseland suffered a massive and expensive high-side crash on the opening day of 2009 testing in Sepang today that he described as one of the biggest spills of his career.

Valentino Rossi’s long-awaited return to action in 2009 also 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.

The British rider was lucky to escape with just aches, bruising and a dead right arm after a huge high-side crash at the fast turn five shortly after midday on the opening day of 2009 winter testing.

Data on Toseland’s wrecked Tech 3 Yamaha YZR-M1 showed him clocking 124.27mph at the moment when he suddenly lost grip on his first flying lap on a hard compound Bridgestone rear tyre.

Toseland was on his first flying lap on a new hard compound Bridgestone tyre, which was the same spec Valentino Rossi used in winning the 2008 Malaysian GP

The two tyres available in Sepang are the 2008 race tyre and a medium compound, which is the same spec as the hard compound offered at the end of November test in Jerez.

Toseland’s new 2009 Yamaha YZR-M1 was completely destroyed in the crash, with two of his mechanics due to spend the rest of the day building up a new bike from scratch.

Nothing from the bike, which Toseland had only done 20 laps on, could be salvaged, including the motor, which suffered extensive internal damage when allowing dirt, dust and stones got inside after the airbox was ripped off on impact.

The chassis and swingarm were also bent beyond repair.

Sources told MCN that the cost easily cost in excess of £200,000 as the session needed to be red flagged for a few minutes.

Toseland, who crashed out of the Malaysia GP last October, needed lengthy treatment in the circuit medical centre but he did manage to go back out for the final hour.

The double World Superbike champion ended the day in 14th place with a best time of 2.04.502.

Speaking to MCN, a relieved Toseland said: “That was easily the biggest crash of my career. I can’t believe I got away with so little damage to my body, because I have never had such a violent high-side.

“I felt good on the new bike and came out of turn four and everything felt fine. It was the harder compound tyre but the drive grip felt really good. But as soon as I got to full lean angle at 200ks, flat-out in third gear, it chucked me into orbit.

“I’ve never been off a bike with such velocity. It really shocks you when it is all that quick, but the temperature right on the edge of the tyre wasn’t high enough. That was a big lesson learned.”

Toseland suffered a dead right arm when his bike hit him in the gravel trap, while he also suffered a large bruise on the inside of his left leg.

But he was only too aware of how lucky his escape had been. “When I came to a rest I was a bit dazed because my head had taken a bit of a bang. I thought I’d smashed my arm to pieces because I couldn’t feel it when the bike hit me.

“But when the feeling started to come back it felt fine. The relief was unbelievable. The crash I had at Cadwell in BSB when I broke my femur in three places was a quarter of that crash I had today, and I’ve somehow walked away with a few bumps and scrapes.

“I’ve got to say a big thanks to BKS because my leathers did an unbelievable job and I owe them a box of chocolates. I’m sorry to Yamaha because the bike was badly damaged.

“That was the last thing I wanted to do on the first day of testing but luckily I’m fine all things considered.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt