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Lorenzo fastest in Malaysia.

Just five days after a disastrous first turn accident in Australia looked to all but end his title hopes, Jorge Lorenzo was back on top of the MotoGP timesheets during Friday free practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang.

Lorenzo hit the top of the timesheets during the final five minutes of the hour to eventually finish just 0.064sec ahead of Phillip Island winner Casey Stoner (Ducati).

Lorenzo's Fiat Yamaha team-mate and title leader Valentino Rossi - who can wrap up his seventh MotoGP crown with fourth place, even if Lorenzo wins on Sunday - began the session with confidence, but was toppled by Stoner just after the midway point and eventually faded back to fourth behind Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa (+0.578sec Lorenzo).

The reigning world champion concluded the hour a sizable 0.684sec behind Lorenzo - who needs to take at least 14 points from Rossi's 38 point lead to take the title to the final round at Valencia.

Andrea Dovizioso, who took the only podium of his rookie season at Sepang last year, broke into the top four by displacing team-mate Pedrosa with 19 minutes to go, but dropped back to fifth at the flag, as the final rider within one-second of Lorenzo.

After Suzuki's Phillip Island nightmare, Loris Capirossi put his GSV-R a competitive sixth at a circuit where he set the third fastest lap time - a fraction behind Stoner and Rossi - during pre-season testing.

Toni Elias used his late braking skills at the end of Sepang's long straights to be the top satellite rider in seventh position for Gresini Honda, ahead of Stoner's factory Ducati team-mate Nicky Hayden and an unusually low-placed Colin Edwards (Tech 3 Yamaha).

Chris Vermeulen was 1.5sec from Lorenzo on the second Suzuki, on a day when all eight factory riders finished in the top ten.

Niccolo Canepa, who injured his arm in Friday practice at Phillip Island, has been replaced by Aleix Espargaro this weekend.

The Spaniard - who rode for the team twice earlier in the season, in place of Mika Kallio, and has already signed for Pramac for 2010 - was 17th and last on Friday, although just 0.047sec behind Gabor Talmacsi (Scot Honda).

Friday practice:

1. Lorenzo
2. Stoner
3. Pedrosa
4. Rossi
5. Dovizioso
6. Capirossi
7. Elias
8. Hayden
9. Edwards
10. Vermeulen
11. Kallio
12. de Angelis
13. Melandri
14. de Puniet
15. Toseland
16. Talmacsi
17. Espargaro

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October 23, 2009 9:41 AM

Look at what we've got here. Rossi about to seal the championship with one race to go. Lorenzo at least on paper is still marginally in the race for the WC despite his various disasters. Stoner looking at third in the WC despite NOT EVEN RUNNING IN THREE RACES THIS YEAR. We're dealing with extraordinary individuals who are light years ahead of the pack. Right now it's not down to bike advantages it's down to skill and courage. Let's hope we get an extraordinary race. Looking forward to 2010 I just don't see Lorenzo as THE force for the future. He's not able to wrangle and refine a difficult bike like Stoner and Rossi. I think Stoner might eventually come to dominate like Rossi has.


October 23, 2009 10:10 AM

Just got to thinking that if Rossi wins the championship at this round we might actually get a no-holds-barred spectacle at Valencia because he will have nothing to lose except skin on his bum.

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