Valentino Rossi ends on top in Sepang

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Valentino Rossi’s domination of the 2010 MotoGP pre-season continued today when the Italian topped the timesheets at a scorching hot Sepang circuit.

The Italian has now topped each of the four days of winter testing in 2010 and today maintained his 100 per cent record with a best lap time of 2.00.271 in a run of 39-laps.

The 31-year-old beat Aussie rival Casey Stoner by 0.241s with Nicky Hayden a surprise third fastest on the factory Ducati GP10.

Rossi’s best time was a massive 0.7s faster than when he topped the timesheets in Sepang earlier this month as he continued to evaluate new electronics and long life engine parts on his factory YZR-M1.

He did also complete a few laps on a new prototype YZR-M1 machine but was cagey about revealing details of its performance when asked by MCN.

He smashed his own pole position record by 0.3s and said: “I’m really happy to have beaten my pole record, it’s a good feeling to be this fast in testing.

“I did this with an old tyre but we also got the chance to try a very good new tyre from Bridgestone today, which I hope we will use from the first race.

“Our bike is in great shape; we need to do a bit more work on the electronics but in general everything is better, especially the rear grip and the engine.

“Yamaha have been very clever to develop this new bike whilst keeping the best parts of the old one, I’m very happy about it.

“It was good to get the chance to try the Japanese test bike, hopefully the feedback I gave them will help us in the future.

“Now we go to Qatar and then we will see our level because it is not one of mine or Yamaha’s best tracks!

“But we’re in great shape and this is very important at this stag e of the season. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Stoner shrugged off arm cramps to post a best time of 2.00.512 in his 33-laps, the 2007 world champion delighted with his progress on a new carbon fibre swingarm he tested today.

Stoner was 0.8s faster than his early February benchmark as he also experimented with a reduced level of traction control using Ducati’s smoother Big Bang engine.

Just 0.191s adrift of the 24-year-old was a rejuvenated American Hayden. He could barely contain his satisfaction after he recovered from a tough first day to rocket up the leaderboard into third spot.

Hayden was a massive 1.5s faster today despite being hampered by the recent right arm surgery he underwent in Italy to remove scar tissue from previous operations.

The top six was packed with three American’s, with Texan Colin Edwards leaving the Far East declaring himself ‘ready to race’ after he clocked the fourth best time.

A lap of 2.00.988 was just 0.026s clear of Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team-mate Ben Spies, who again looked assured and confident on the YZR-M1.

The reigning World Superbike champion clocked a best of 2.01.014 and was the last rider to lap inside of a second of in-form Rossi.

Loris Capirossi rode Suzuki’s new 2010 long life GSV-R motor to the sixth quickest time to finish ahead of compatriot Andrea Dovizioso.

On a tough day for Honda, British GP winner Dovizioso was the fastest Honda RC212V rider but a massive 1.168s adrift of Rossi.

He beat Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa by 0.039s with the Spaniard woefully out of sorts as he blamed a mountain of problems with the set-up of his factory RC212V.

Pedrosa only finished 0.214s clear of reigning 250GP champion Hiroshi Aoyama with impressive Spanish rookie Alvaro Bautista rounding out the top ten with a quickest lap of 2.01.732.

The former world 125GP champion rode today with heavy strapping on his left arm having suffered muscle damage when saving a big slide on his factory Suzuki GSV-R.

1. Valentino Rossi ITA Fiat Yamaha Team 2min 0.271 sec
2. Casey Stoner AUS Ducati Marlboro Team 2min 0.512 sec
3. Nicky Hayden USA Ducati Marlboro Team 2min 0.703 sec
4. Colin Edwards USA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 2min 0.988 sec
5. Ben Spies USA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 2min 1.014 sec
6. Loris Capirossi ITA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 2min 1.320 sec
7. Andrea Dovizioso ITA Repsol Honda Team 2min 1.439 sec
8. Dani Pedrosa SPA Repsol Honda Team 2min 1.478 sec
9. Hiroshi Aoyama JPN Interwetten Honda MotoGP 2min 1.692 sec
10. Alvaro Bautista SPA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 2min 1.732 sec
11. Randy de Puniet FRA LCR Honda MotoGP 2min 1.980 sec
12. Marco Melandri ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini 2min 2.078 sec
13. Hector Barbera SPA Paginas Amarillas Ducati 2min 2.080 sec
14. Mika Kallio FIN Pramac Racing 2min 2.082 sec
15. Aleix Espargaro SPA Pramac Racing 2min 2.367 sec
16. Marco Simoncelli ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini 2min 3.689 sec

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt