Sepang : Repsol Honda - Day 1
The Repsol Honda Team were back on track at the splendid Sepang circuit today as the first day of practice took place for Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix. Nicky Hayden and Dani Pedrosa had challenging days for different reasons, with Hayden finishing
in 11th position and Pedrosa impressively fast in second place, before a fall ended his afternoon session early.
Hayden, who arrives at Sepang with a 25-point lead in the world championship, spent the day working on the settings for his evolution Honda RC211V. Although he didn't make the set-up gains he'd expected, the rapid 25-year-old American remained confident of further improvements in tomorrow's two one-hour sessions.
Rookie Dani Pedrosa was immediately fast today on a track he knows from winter testing. The reigning 250cc World Champion was third fastest in the morning session and was lying fastest in the afternoon when a strange crash forced him to sit out the rest of the session.
A slide from the front in the fast right-hand Turn 13 caused Pedrosa's right knee to impact on the high inside kerb, triggering a high-side. The tough young Spaniard walked away but was treated in the Clinica Mobile where he received four stitches in his right knee. Tomorrow morning he will decide with the doctors whether he can take part in the practice session ahead of the afternoon's qualifying shoot-out.
Nicky Hayden (11th – 2m 03.174s): "It wasn't as positive as we'd have liked it to be today. If we were just a few tenths faster we'd be a lot further up because it's close just ahead of me – although a few guys up front are really fast so we've definitely got some work to do. We were using the new chassis that we tested on the two days after the Brno race.
It worked really well there but hasn't helped us so much here. Also the clutch issue has come back a little bit today. Tomorrow we've got two more hours of practice to come – so we'll definitely try to find a good race tyre and get the bike working a little better."
Dani Pedrosa (2nd – 2m 02.021s): "Today things were going pretty well. I had a good feeling from the bike and felt comfortable with the pace I was running. But then I had a crash in Turn 13 and landed heavily. It started with a small slide from the front tyre and the bike dropped a little which made my right knee hit the kerb. I'm pretty sure it's this impact that caused my injury. I can remember the whole crash, which is a good I suppose, and I was able to walk away, although it was quite painful. We'll see how it feels tomorrow and decide if I can take part in the morning session – I really hope so."
Makoto Tanaka – Team Manager : "Honestly today became quite a difficult situation for us. Dani's pace was very good from the start – he was improving even quicker than usual, but then he was caught out by a trap. Usually a rider is ok if he loses the front, but when it's a high-side he lands very heavily and unfortunately Dani hurt his knee. He walked away from the accident which is a good sign, and we'll wait and see if he can ride tomorrow morning. We had a few set-up issues on Nicky's machine today and he wasn't able to improve his time this afternoon, so we need to work on the set-up of his chassis. We have quite a lot of work to do for tomorrow but provided we can concentrate hard, we'll find the best solution."