Ben Spies quickest at rain-soaked Sepang

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Ben Spies ended another rain-hit day of testing at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia on top of the timesheets after Honda failed to complete a lap.

An engine failure suffered by Dani Pedrosa in the final stages of the opening day forced HRC to conduct a thorough investigation that kept the Spaniard, Casey Stoner, Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl off track for the entire day.

With no Honda on track, Yamaha occupied the top four places on the timesheets with a lap of 2.01.285 set in cool conditions this morning putting Texan Spies on top by just 0.008s from team-mate Jorge Lorenzo.

The second day though was once again dominated by torrential rain, though Spies did complete 14 laps on a wet track to gauge the performance of Yamaha’s new YZR-M1 1000cc in full wet conditions.

He set a best time of 2.17.114 but that was considerably slower than Lorenzo, who also made his rain debut on a 1000cc bike to finish with a best lap of 2.14.759.

Former World Superbike champion Spies, who won his first Grand Prix in Assen last season, said: “It was an important opportunity for us to get out on a full wet track and straightaway I had pretty good confidence.

“I’ve always been decent in the rain but struggled for some reason the last couple of years on a GP bike. But I had a really good feeling with the bike in the rain.”

When asked by MCN if he felt Yamaha had reduced the gap to Honda’s impressive new factory RC213V ahead of the first race in Qatar on April 8, Spies added: “I think for this early on I am really happy with the bike but we won’t know until we get to Qatar.

“I would say the gap is smaller but I don’t know if it is closed completely yet. We just need to wait and find out but Yamaha is doing everything it can and we are developing the bike as well as we can and hopefully the gap is closer than we think.

“Right now though I’m not getting ahead of myself or saying we have closed it completely and saying our bike is better. We need to make our package better compared to where it is right now and I think we are on the right road to doing that.”

1  Ben Spies  Yamaha Factory Racing  2:01.285
2  Jorge Lorenzo  Yamaha Factory Racing  2:01.293  +0.008  +0.008  
3  Andrea Dovizioso  Monster Yamaha Tech 3  2:01.522  +0.229  +0.237  
4  Cal Crutchlow  Monster Yamaha Tech 3  2:01.695  +0.173  +0.410  
5  Nicky Hayden  Ducati Team  2:01.748  +0.053  +0.463  
6  Hector Barbera  Pramac Racing Team  2:01.989  +0.241  +0.704  
7  Valentino Rossi  Ducati Team  2:02.130  +0.141  +0.845  
8  Franco Battaini  Cardion AB Motoracing  2:03.566  +1.436  +2.281  
9  Colin Edwards  NGM Mobile Forward Racing  2:05.816  +2.250  +4.531  
10  Ivan Silva  Avintia Racing  2:07.532  +1.716  +6.247  
11  Yonny Hernandez  Avintia Racing  2:08.213  +0.681  +6.928  

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt