SPAIN’S Dani Pedrosa got off to a flying start Friday in hot and humid conditions with the fastest time in practice ahead of the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix this weekend.
The Honda rider is just 28 points behind championship points leader Yamaha ace Jorge Lorenzo with three rounds remaining this season, including in Sepang.
Title-hopeful Pedrosa, who is battling for his first ever MotoGP crown, clocked 2min 01.621sec in the first session on a dry surface.
Pedrosa’s Australian teammate and reigning world champion Casey Stoner, who is recovering from an ankle injury, clocked the second best time of 2:01.773.
The injury has ended twotime world champion Stoner’s bid to retain the title before his retirement from Grand Prix racing at the end of this season.
Lorenzo of Spain, who is expected to win the championship, was third, finishing 0.313 of a second behind Pedrosa.
Stoner is 113 points adrift of Lorenzo, and with three races to go in the season is unable to overtake him as the winner of each event collects 25 points.
Lorenzo has 310 points, Pedrosa is on 282 and Stoner 197.
Nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi of Italy clocked the eleventh fastest time for Ducati at 2:03.274.
But the second session was marred by patches of heavy rain with many of the top riders including Pedrosa, Stoner and Lorenzo driving carefully to avoid any injury.
While Avintia Blusens’ Ivan Silva of Spain set the fastest lap in the second practice in the high 2.10 seconds, it was Pedrosa’s pace in the mid 2.01 seconds in the first session that gave the best indication of the pace to come this weekend.
The starting grid for Sunday’s Malaysian GP, the 16th leg of the 18-round championship, will be decided in the qualifying session after another free practice on Saturday.