Spanish Honda rider Dani Pedrosa set the quickest pace while teammate and reigning champion Marc Marquez finished seventh on the timesheets on day one Sunday of the 2018 test season at Malaysia’s Sepang circuit.  

Pedrosa clocked 1min 59.427 seconds — 0.343 seconds faster than Italian Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso who was the 2017 season runner-up.

The first round of testing got off at a slow pace due to rain but track conditions improved after lunch and  riders often hit 300 kph.

Riders in general focused on how their bikes’ electronics, suspensions and engines functioned and on ways to improve stability and agility.  

Dovizioso, 31, enjoyed a superb campaign with Ducati last year, winning six grand prix and taking the championship battle with Spain’s Marquez down to the final race.

Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo, three-times world champion and Dovizioso’s teammate, logged his best time at 1.59.802 seconds.

Italy’s Danilo Petrucci on a Ducati was fourth quickest at 2.00.123 seconds while Aussie ace Jack Miller was fifth on a Ducati at 2.00.178 seconds.

Nine-times world champion Valentino Rossi, who made a remarkable recovery from the broken leg that prematurely ended his title bid in 2017, clocked 2.00.233 seconds, to be sixth fastest.

Four-times MotoGP champion Marquez, on target for his fifth crown, was 0.863 seconds off the pace.   

Sepang will host the pre-season test until January 30. It will be followed by the maiden Buriram test in Thailand from February 16-18.

The final 2018 pre-season test will  be at Qatar’s Losail International Circuit for three days from March 1st.

This year will be the first time that GP motorcycle racing will feature 19 rounds, starting on March 18 in Losail. –   Agence France-Presse

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