Valentino Rossi makes flying start to 2010

1 of 1

Valentino Rossi made the perfect start to his campaign for a 10th world title after he topped the timesheets on the opening day of 2010 winter testing at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia.

The 30-year-old Italian clocked a best time of 2.01.411 in cooler conditions this morning to dominate the opening day of track action in Malaysia.

Using Yamaha’s longer life factory YZR-M1 motor for the first time, Rossi declared himself relieved and happy as the Japanese factory had increased durability but not sacrificed any crucial performance.

The seven-times MotoGP world champion ended 0.491s clear of second placed Casey Stoner on the new Ducati GP10 with only Colin Edwards, Loris Capirossi and Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo able to lap within a second of Rossi.

He said: “Today was very important because this year we have just six days of testing in which to set the bike, so we can not waste any time.

“This first day was very positive, we tried the new bike for 2010, with a different chassis and a new engine, which can do more kilometres, and it is quite fast. Yamaha has worked very well over the winter.

“Now we need to spend time on setting some electronics and other things. This is only the start but it seems we’re already in good shape.”

Stoner’s best of 2.01.902 logged on his 12th of a 42-lap stint secured second from Edwards by 0.030s.

Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha rider Edwards was thrilled with his performance, declaring the new YZR-M1 motor ‘a massive improvement’ on the version he raced in 2009.

Edwards said the new motor had better bottom end power.

It was a frustrating opening day of 2010 for Lorenzo, who finished runner-up to Rossi in last year’s premier class championship.

He could only post a best time of 2.02.165 to finish a massive 0.754s away from in-form Rossi in fifth spot.

He said: “After such a long break I found it quite hard to find my rhythm on the bike today – motocross bikes are not the same as the new M1!

“It was quite a difficult start to the day but little by little I started to feel more comfortable and to improve my pace.

“This afternoon, when it was a bit warmer, I began to improve my times even more and get closer to the first rider, so in the end I was quite happy with our work.

“Yamaha have brought some good things for us; the bike is not completely different to the old one but the small details make it easier to ride and this is important.”

Dani Pedrosa was in a lowly eighth but not worried as he continued to adapt to Ohlins suspension on his factory Honda RC212V machine.

The Spaniard said: “This was a normal first day of testing for us. It’s been a long time since we last rode the bike and so it took some time to get used to the speed once again and work back into the rhythm – this is natural.

“We weren’t looking for lap times or high performance and we spent a lot of the day working on the Ohlins suspension because this is a major change for us this season compared to last.

“The feeling from my left wrist where I had a screw removed in December was good, so this is positive.

“Generally, I took it carefully today and we have plenty of places where we can make further improvements – starting tomorrow.”

Quickest Honda rider though was new father Andrea Dovizioso, who claimed the sixth best time of 2.02.630.

The Italian said: “his is a very important test and it’s good to be back on the bike after such a long winter break.

“This was a positive first day and I’m happy with the updated machine that Honda has brought here.

“We have a lot of work to do before we’re ready and many things that need to be tested, so today’s lap times are not indicative of our potential.

“The work that Honda has done on the electronics has made a big improvement, and also the feeling from the chassis is better.

“We’re concentrating on improving a pace that we can maintain throughout the race, and that’s what we’ll continue with tomorrow.

“There’s plenty still to test but this first session has been important to confirm we’re heading in the right direction.”

Elsewhere, a chronic bout of jetlag left reigning World Superbike champion Ben Spies languishing down in 12th position in only his second appearance on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine.

Top rookie was once again impressive Spaniard Hector Barbera, who finished just 0.043s adrift of fellow Ducati rider Mika Kallio to finish 10th.

Big shocks on the first day were former world 250GP champion Marco Simoncelli languishing down in 15th place and over two seconds off Rossi’s pace.

And Gresini team-mate Marco Melandri was even slower on his Honda RC212V return, the Italian clocked a best time of 2.03.609 in his 66-laps to finish 0.046s behind Simoncelli.

Reigning world 250GP champion Hiroshi Aoyama ended in 17th and last place with a best lap of 2.03.651.

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt