After the Christmas holidays and nearly a month-long break, the MotoGP riders got back on track today at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia, according to their 2006 pre-season work-out schedule. The goal of today's session was to loosen up over as many laps as possible and slowly get back into the pace of competition.
It was an intense but positive first day for the Repsol Honda Team, from 9.30 this morning until six in the evening, with a short mid-morning break due to a sudden rain shower. According to their schedule, this was the first of three practice sessions before the MotoGP teams move on to Phillip Island, Australia, for the next session on the last day of the month and the first two of February.
In a personal reunion with his bike and category for the upcoming 2006 season, Dani Pedrosa took a relaxed yet cautious approach. Unused to physical activity since before the Christmas break, the young Repsol rider covered 360 km in 65 laps of the 5,543 metre Sepang track.
North-American Nicky Hayden was deeply concentrated since the first lap, and used his time without taking any unnecessary risks, hoping to put Tuesday's and Wednesday's practice session time to good use and try out new equipment from Japan. Hayden completed a total of 85 laps, 471 km, on the Sepang track.
Nicky Hayden said: "It's great to be back. It'll be hard at first to train all day, but I'm happy to see everyone again and get back on my bike. We made a good start today and have already tried out some new things we liked. Honda has done a great job and I think we're on the right track. The track seems to be in good condition, although the area around bend three is a bit dirty after repaving. It's still early to jump to conclusions, because there's still a long way to go before the World Championship kicks off in Jerez."
Dani Pedrosa said: "It's been good to have time off, but I wanted to get back into action. After the practice sessions here last November, I rested a bit but then got right back to physical training. It's important to start training again since I also have to get used to this category. I still get tired easily - I haven't practiced enough and still haven't got a complete feel for the bike. Without meaning to, it makes me double my efforts and that tires me out. We've been working on basic aspects today, like the suspension; more or less like the last time. It's only been the first day and I haven't been on a bike for a month and a half, so we just wanted to get back to where we left off at the last practice. The track was a bit better than in November and that gave us better times. It's also a bit warmer and the pavement seems to grip better. For the time being we want to take it easy, and it's important not to get too caught up with the tests we're running."