Valentino Rossi remained unstoppable at the end of the second preseason MotoGP test at Sepang, beating his 2009 pole time at the Malaysian Grand Prix venue.
The MotoGP champion has now been fastest on all four winter test days to date – all of which have taken place at Sepang – and his 2m00.271sec lap today was 0.8sec quicker than he had managed yesterday.
With Rossi's teammate Jorge Lorenzo sidelined by a hand injury at present, Casey Stoner was unsurprisingly his main rival. The Ducati rider was only 0.3ec off Rossi's pace, while Stoner's teammate Nicky Hayden took a hugely encouraging third. The American struggled to match Stoner last year and was hampered by pain from recent arm surgery on Thursday, but today he was only 0.191sec behind his teammate and clearly reveling in Ducati's latest swing-arm and engine developments.
Tech 3 Yamaha's strong test form continued with fourth and fifth places for Colin Edwards and top rookie Ben Spies, while the factory Hondas of Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa were back in seventh and eighth, behind Suzuki's Loris Capirossi.
Hiroshi Aoyama, 250cc champion, showed his best form yet for the new Interwetten Honda team to take ninth, just ahead of fellow rookie Alvaro Bautista – the Suzuki rider in some discomfort having hurt his arm in a crash yesterday.
But it was a bad day for another 250cc graduate, as Marco Simoncelli (Gresini Honda) had a heavy fall on his third lap. He was taken to the hospital as a precaution but returned to the track later in the day, although he was unable to resume running.
The final MotoGP test of the winter will take place at Losail in Qatar on March 17-19, with the season opener at the same venue on April 12.
Pos Rider Team Time Gap Laps
1. Valentino Rossi Yamaha 2m00.271s 39
2. Casey Stoner Ducati 2m00.512s + 0.241s 33
3. Nicky Hayden Ducati 2m00.703s + 0.432s 42
4. Colin Edwards Tech 3 Yamaha 2m00.988s + 0.717s 35
5. Ben Spies Tech 3 Yamaha 2m01.014s + 0.743s 44
6. Loris Capirossi Suzuki 2m01.320s + 1.049s 50
7. Andrea Dovizioso Honda 2m01.439s + 1.168s 46
8. Dani Pedrosa Honda 2m01.478s + 1.207s 57
9. Hiroshi Aoyama Interwetten Honda 2m01.692s + 1.421s 50
10. Alvaro Bautista Suzuki 2m01.732s + 1.461s 25
11. Randy De Puniet LCR Honda 2m01.980s + 1.709s 58
12. Marco Melandri Gresini Honda 2m02.078s + 1.807s 60
13. Hector Barbera Aspar Ducati 2m02.080s + 1.809s 52
14. Mika Kallio Pramac Ducati 2m02.082s + 1.811s 66
15. Aleix Espargaro Pramac Ducati 2m02.367s + 2.096s 49
16. Marco Simoncelli Gresini Honda 2m03.689s + 3.418s 2