Dani Pedrosa leads tight first practice at Sepang

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Dani Pedrosa edged out Aleix Espargaro and Jorge Lorenzo in a top three covered by just 0.037 seconds in opening practice for MotoGP's Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang. Pedrosa was fastest for most of the morning session, initially leading a Honda one-two with team-mate Marc Marquez. He was deposed by Lorenzo's Yamaha, which in turn was then beaten by Forward Yamaha rider Espargaro with a lap 0.023s faster. That was despite Espargaro having suffered the only crash of the morning earlier in the session, when he lost his bike under braking into the final corner. Pedrosa responded on his last run with a lap of 2m01.379s to depose Espargaro by 0.014s. The performance came a day after Honda announced that it was promoting Ramon Aurin to replace Pedrosa's long-time crew chief Mike Leitner, following months of rumours about big changes on Pedrosa's side of the garage. His team-mate Marquez never managed to improve on his early time, despite showing better pace in a few sectors, and ended up fourth. Stefan Bradl and Valentino Rossi completed the top six, followed by Ducati team-mates Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow.