Colin Edwards and James Toseland are both confident they can make major improvements after a difficult start to their preparations for Sunday's Malaysian MotoGP race.
The Sepang circuit typically poses the toughest examination of man and machine on the MotoGP calendar with
sweltering hot temperatures and high humidity key features at the Malaysian GP.
Today was no exception with temperatures peaking at 31 degrees and ground temperatures reaching 46 degrees, though heavy cloud cover prevented conditions from reaching the extremes often experienced at Sepang and the best lap times were just a fraction off record pace.
Texan Edwards posted a best time of 2.03.739 to finish ninth quickest, the 35-year-old searching to improve edge grip on his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 machine.
“I feel good on the bike and I'm riding as hard as I can but my bike felt pretty slow out there today if I'm being honest”, he said. “I know this track like the back of my hand because we have come here so many times to race and test and we've got a particular gearbox setting where I know exactly what is going to happen on the track. But we've got to change the gearing tomorrow because I was braking so much later than normal because I just wasn't carrying the speed down the straight. The problem it gave me was that to make up any time you've got to ride much faster in the corners. But that means you wear the side of the tyre really quick, and with these high ground temperatures it is wearing the tyre much faster than I want. I'll sit down with my guys at Tech 3 tonight and see what we can come up with and I'm still confident of a positive weekend.”
British rider Toseland was a further six places back, the 28-year-old steering his YZR-M1 to a best lap time of 2.05.218.
Toseland was also striving to find more edge grip to cope with the fast and sweeping nature of the 5.548km circuit.
“It has been a tough start but I knew it would be because I was running an old engine today and that had a big impact on our performance. For the rest of the weekend we'll have a fresher motor in that should help because I was quite far down the speed charts”, he said. “But I was struggling for side grip this afternoon. I'm running more corner speed to make up for the loss in acceleration and that is wearing the rear tyre quite quickly. And during that session we couldn't find the side grip I needed to go faster. We've gained a lot of data though and I'm sure with a few ideas that my guys at Tech 3 have, I'll be in better shape tomorrow."
Sunday's 21-lap race is the penultimate round of the 2009 MotoGP world championship, with Edwards still firmly in the hunt for a top five overall placing, and Toseland in contention for seventh position in the rankings.