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MotoGP’s Young Guns Stalk The Champ in Sepang

MotoGP testing got back underway today in Sepang, Malaysia – the first test following the mandatory “Holiday Break”.

With many of the riders out on early-spec 2006 machines for the first time, most of the day was spent testing various settings in an attempt to find an ideal setup. Unsurprisingly, defending champ Valentino Rossi posted the quickest lap of the day, but right behind him were MotoGP’s youngest stars.

Honda’s Marco Melandri was second-quickest, only six-hundredths of a second slower than Rossi at 2’02.21. Just behind was another young Honda rider, American Nicky Hayden, who put in a best of 2’02.23. Hayden’s rookie teammate Dani Pedrosa chimed in with a 2’02.46, neatly topping veteran Loris Capirossi’s 2’02.55 on his new Ducati.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – testing is not a race, but we are still excited by the numbers of riders posting competitive lap times in testing this year. If these riders can hold a similar pace through the length of a race, we should see some exciting battles at the front of the pack in 2006.

Check back with us on Wednesday to see our final report on this three-day test.