x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Pedrosa sets the pace in Malaysia with rival Marquez on the sidelines

Spain's Marc Marquez to miss Sepang and Phillip Island testing with broken leg

Dani Pedrosa of Spain and Repsol Honda lifts his front wheel during Day 2 of MotoGP testing at Sepang International Circuit on February 27, 2014. Mirco Lazzari / Getty Images
Dani Pedrosa of Spain and Repsol Honda lifts his front wheel during Day 2 of MotoGP testing at Sepang International Circuit on February 27, 2014. Mirco Lazzari / Getty Images

SEPANG, Malaysia // Honda’s ­Dani Pedrosa set the pace on Thursday during Day 2 of testing in Malaysia as injured teammate and MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez said that he would also miss next week’s Phillip Island test.

Marquez, who is absent from the Sepang circuit testing because of a broken leg, said his surgeon had advised him against taking “unnecessary risk” so that he is fit for the season’s opening race on March 23.

The Spaniard, 21, who last year became the youngest rider to win the world title and the first rookie to do so in 35 years, broke his leg during training last week in Spain.

“I’m obviously disappointed that I’m not in Sepang at the moment and to miss Phillip Island is also unfortunate,” Marquez said. “So I will take time to rest and get myself as fit as possible to return to Qatar for the first race.”

Since 2009, no premier-class rider has claimed the MotoGP championship in back-to-back campaigns.

It was a solid day of work for Pedrosa, who is seeking to capture an elusive first MotoGP world title, after hitting the top of the time sheet in 2 minutes, 00.039 seconds and ahead of Yamaha pair Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo.

“My performance today was better than yesterday. The bike was stable on the corner. We will work on the rear tyre tomorrow,” Pedrosa said.

The Spaniard’s best lap time was 0.5 seconds slower than the marker set down by Marquez during the previous Sepang test as riders again complained that the track was greasy, which forced the 22 riders to throttle back.

Yamaha’s Aleix Espargaro, who dominated during early testing, was second on 2:00.320 while Honda’s Alvaro Bautista, who posted the fastest time on Day 1 of a test session in this notoriously tricky circuit, was third, 0.461 seconds behind Pedrosa.

Nine-time world champion Rossi came in fourth, with the Italian 0.566 seconds slower than rival Pedrosa.

Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso, who was fifth on 2:00.787, was again the fastest in the Italian team.

Lorenzo – a two-time MotoGP champion – finished ninth with 2:01.049.

Riders come to Sepang early each year for two test sessions to put their bikes and equipment through their paces in the often hot and humid conditions on the tight-turning circuit in preparation for the coming season.

The testing session ends on Friday. Another three-day session follows at Phillip Island, Australia, from Monday, followed by another at Qatar’s Losail circuit.

The new season kicks off at Losail on March 23. Malaysia will host the championship on October 26.

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