What started as a slightly cool morning for Malaysian standards turned into a scorching hot and sunny afternoon with plenty of action. Clearly eager to get going back aboard his YZR-M1, Rossi came prepared with a special Sepang Test helmet and showed that this year he'll once again be one of the top protagonists. As the pace of the field started to pick up, he battled teammate Jorge Lorenzo, and rivals Andrea Dovizioso, Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa for the top billing until, with almost three hours into the session, he cruised to the top the leader board. Clocking an impressive 2'00.380s lap, he is already less than 0.9 of second off last year's fastest pre-season test time of 1'59.533s.
Like his teammate, Lorenzo was riding similar YZR-M1 machines to the prototypes they tested at Valencia at the end of the 2014 season and was also right on the pace. After familiarising himself with the bike again, the Spaniard steadily booked progress and made it a provisional Yamaha 1-2 when he posted a 2'00.521s, just +0.141s off Rossi.
Both riders took a break in the afternoon before returning to the track for a second stint. Rossi and Lorenzo spent the remaining two hours of testing usefully as they focused on further improving their set-up. Their times remained unchanged and they finished in second and third place respectively.
Valentino Rossi // 2nd / 2'00.380 / 57 laps
"It's a positive first day and I'm very excited to be back on the bike. Today has been really good because I was consistently fast in both the morning and afternoon. We worked a lot on trying to improve our pace with a used tyre, but it's already quite good. The bike is good and with the new tyre we were able to attack and ride a good lap time. At the end I was in second place just behind Marquez, but not by far. It looks like the bike has improved in different areas. We still have a lot of work to do but the first day was ok."
Jorge Lorenzo // 3rd / 2'00.521 / 55 laps
It's a completely different story from last year, when we had a lot of problems, to now arrive here and feel comfortable on the bike and also with our position in the classification lap time-wise. This year we've been at the front from the beginning, in first three positions, and that means that the bike is working. My physical condition is very good. I feel strong, but the first day is always difficult. You have to use different muscles that you don't usually use at the gym or during your preparations, so you always get tired. However, compared to the normal pre-season I'm feeling well. Sepang is not our best track, but to have two Yamaha's in the top three is a good signal."
Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director -
"It's great to be back on track and working towards the start of the season in the best possible way. Both Valentino and Jorge are in great physical shape and fully motivated, it is as if they never stopped riding! The main target for this test is to leave at the end confident in the development direction we want to take. Our starting point today has been the bike from the last test in Valencia, it is important to know that what the riders felt there also works here in Sepang. From today it seems that this is correct. It's only day one and we are shaking off the cobwebs but it's a good way to start. We are testing some small things also as the details are very important and we will continue to work through our programme for the next few days."
The wait is over for Tech3 pair as Sepang test begins brightly
Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider Pol Espargaro kicked off his 2015 campaign with a strong opening run to finish in sixth position on the first day of testing at the Sepang International circuit in Malaysia. Today's action saw the MotoGP riders back on track for the first time in over two months as the pre-season got into full swing in dry conditions. The 2014 rookie of the year wasted no time in getting up to speed straight away and after tirelessly undertaking 55 laps, he set his quickest time of 2'00.930 on the 29th lap to leave him in sixth and fastest of the satellite MotoGP bikes. His bright start highlighted his firm intent for the 2015 season as his time was a mere four tenths of a second from the top three.
Meanwhile, Britain's Bradley Smith concluded the first day of the 2015 pre season campaign with a ride to ninth place and a best lap of 2'01.707 whilst experimenting with setup options as he looks to continue building up his speed in the following test sessions. The young British rider completed 52 laps of the famous Sepang circuit as he set his quickest time half way through the day on lap 27, aboard the 2015 specification Yamaha YZR-M1. With two more testing days to follow, the Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider optimistically looks to lower his lap time whilst he sets about establishing a strong base setup to contest the forthcoming season opener in Qatar at the end of March.
Pol Espargaro // 6th / 2'00.930 / 55 laps
"It was really nice to be back on track today. Just to be on my Yamaha again and to feel the speed of the M1 has already made me happy. Aside from this, we had a constructive day and I set a good time. I tried to lower my time towards the end of the session, but the track was quite slippery which prevented me from progressing further. However, my rhythm is promising and I remain positive for the next two days. We were able to improve in the key areas that we wanted to, when compared to last season, so I'm already excited to continue testing tomorrow morning. Furthermore, I am able to say that my physical condition has improved a lot from last season when I first rode the bike. This is because my preparation for 2015 with training has been different, yet additionally, I'm also riding smoother, which does not require as much strength. Therefore I could take advantage of the full test time, which had not been the case last year on the opening day."
Bradley Smith // 9th / 2'01.707 / 52 laps
"I am happy to have jumped back on the Yamaha today and having completed 52 laps we were able to get a good feeling with the M1 after such a long time off the bike, which is positive start. This week is just going to be a case of providing general feedback because my leg has not quite recovered from the injury, which means that I don't think I will be able to push for really fast lap times. Nevertheless, I am sure that we can still find a good pace plus firm our direction to head towards and in the future we will try new solutions with electronics and geometry settings. I was able to evaluate bike 1 and bike 2 which both had slightly different setups, but the overall feedback was encouraging for both. The track conditions are a bit better than when we visited here for the GP last year and although it's hotter and there is less grip than in Valencia, the improvements that I felt in Spain with the 2015 bike have certainly continued here. Overall, I am pleased with today's performance, plus the new bike for this year is a good step forward which I am very satisfied about. I want to thank Yamaha for giving Pol and I this opportunity and I look forward to tomorrow."
Stefan Bradl is the fastest Open bike in Sepang
The first day of testing has ended positively for Team Forward Racing as Stefan Bradl sits on top of the standings for Open bikes.
The German rider has continued his work to adapt to the Forward Yamaha bike completing 58 laps with a best time of 2'01.556, which earned him the eighth place overall, just a second short of leader Marquez.
It was a productive day also for his teammate Loris Baz, who completed 66 laps, stopping the clock at 2'04.163.
Stefan Bradl // 8th / 2'01.556 / 58 laps
"It has been a very positive first day. The lap time is good and finding yourself at the end of the session in the top ten is definitely a good start. The feeling is also pretty good, although I have yet to learn to take the right confidence with the Magneti Marelli software. I have in front of me two more days of work and I'm sure I can find a good setting to be immediately fast in the first race."
Loris Baz // 25th / 2'04.163 / 66 laps
"The feeling at the end of this first day is positive. I completed 66 laps and my work continues in a positive direction. I still need to find the right confidence and position on the bike but we are growing up quickly. We still have two days of work to find the right feeling."