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October 24, 2009

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Home » Sports » Motor Racing

Lorenzo sets the pace, heat slows down Rossi

MOTOGP world championship leader Valentino Rossi failed to set the pace yesterday in the wilting heat of the first practice session for tomorrow's Malaysian Grand Prix.

Rossi's Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo of Spain, the only other rider in contention for the title, set the fastest time of two minutes 02.180 seconds, with Australian Casey Stoner, on a Ducati, 0.064 seconds behind in the hot and oppressively humid conditions.

Spaniard Dani Pedrosa of Honda was third while Italy's six-time world champion Rossi came in fourth.

The 5.5-kilometer Sepang circuit, south of the capital Kuala Lumpur, has a combination of tight corners, long straights and challenging, high-speed bends that make it a fine test of race machinery and riding skill. Rossi has described Sepang as one of his favorite circuits.

The Italian downplayed his performance, saying, "We worked mainly with old tires to understand the nature of the bike when it's sliding" but vowed to be on the front row for tomorrow's race.

"It's going to be very important to be on the front row for Sunday. I think the race will be very hard...drink a lot of water because it is very, very hot," he said.

The 30-year-old Italian has a 38-point advantage in the world championship and a top-four ride in Sepang will be enough for him to win his seventh title tomorrow.

Lorenzo said he rode aggressively as his Yamaha was in good condition but admitted that his finger hurt after his crash last Sunday at the Australian GP. "The cut is right on the knuckle, so it's a bit painful when I have to bend it to brake," he said.

Pedrosa said his lap time was "quite competitive" and was confident he would have a successful outing. "I am not worried about being half a second back from the fastest time at this stage. To achieve good stability under braking is the key area for us," he said.


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