Jorge Lorenzo picked up where he left off as the MotoGP class returned to action at Brno following a three-week summer break. The world championship leader set the quickest lap of the first practice at the Cardion ab Grand Prix České republiky with a best time of 1:57.215 on his Fiat Yamaha M1, in a session that saw light rain fall in the final 10 minutes.
After finishing well ahead of his rivals a cautious Lorenzo was pleased with his performance.
“I am happy to be riding here in Brno again,” he said. “It’s always difficult to go back to work after the holidays and this track is so different to Laguna, so wide and much longer, it took me a few more laps than usual to get going.
“Once I found my rhythm this was a good session and I felt happy on my bike, with a good setting to start from. We tried both rear tyres and we need more time to choose, because unfortunately it rained a bit at the end and we had to stop early. We’ll have to wait and see how the track is tomorrow but we hope for it to be dry so we can continue with what we started on today.”
Just over half-a-second off Lorenzo’s pace was Dani Pedrosa, as the Repsol Honda man set about mounting another challenge to the dominance of his compatriot. Pedrosa, who was leading the last round at Laguna Seca until he crashed out, will aim for a step up in pace to enable him to once more push Lorenzo for the win here in round ten.
Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha) completed the top three as the reigning world champion timed in at just six-hundredths of a second off Pedrosa, displaying further progress on his way back to full fitness. Close on his tail was fellow Italian Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda), who was the fourth and final rider under the 1:58 bar in the hour-long session.
Nicky Hayden was the highest placing Ducati on his factory machine at just over a full second off the top time, with Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), Casey Stoner (Ducati Team) and Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini Team) completing the top eight on the time sheet. Rookie Simoncelli experienced the only crash of the session early on, which did little to dent his confidence.
Making his return to action less than four weeks after suffering a broken left leg at Sachsenring was Randy de Puniet, with the LCR Honda rider 16th at just under three seconds off Lorenzo, however a near-highside early in the session caused him severe pain in his pinned tibia.
A fast lap three minutes from the end of the first practice session at Brno handed Fonsi Nieto top spot on the timesheet on Friday afternoon, as the Spaniard beat home rider Karel Abraham to the top time by a margin of just two-thousandths of a second.
The Cardion ab Motoracing rider had been in prime position for more than half the session with his effort of 2:04.877, but a crash for Abraham at turn 13 with 25 minutes remaining ended his session early. The Czech rider’s time remained fastest until Nieto edged in front on his 18th of 20 laps.
Shoya Tomizawa (Technomag-CIP) experienced a crash early in the session but the Japanese rider was back on his bike and undaunted as he set the third best lap of the hour, placing him a tenth of a second ahead of Gabor Talmacsi (Fimmco Speed Up).
Julián Simón (Mapfre Aspar), Yuki Takahashi (Tech3 Racing), Simone Corsi (JiR Moto2) and Andrea Iannone (Fimmco Speed Up) completed the top eight, with the championship’s current second-placed rider Thomas Lüthi (Interwetten Moriwaki Racing) in 15th.
The session was controversially sat out by championship leader Toni Elías (Gresini Racing Moto2). The Spaniard was disqualified from taking part in the practice by race direction following his testing infringement by riding at Misano last weekend, and will return to the track for the second practice session on Saturday morning.
Nico Terol’s return from injury could not have gone much better as the Spaniard set the fastest time in the first practice at Brno with a fast lap of 2:08.010 the Bancaja Aspar rider, who missed the last round at Sachsenring due to the injuries he sustained in a crash at Catalunya, was strong in the practice hour as he improved his time by half-a-second towards the end.
That placed him an impressive 0.507s ahead of teammate Bradley Smith who with a solid penultimate lap rose to second on the timesheet, ahead of championship leader Marc Márquez. The Red Bull Ajo Motorsport rider had a crash at the very end which resulted in a dislocation of the left shoulder, however the youngster will ride with the injury tomorrow.
Pol Espargaró (Tuenti Racing), Esteve Rabat (Blusens-STX) and Danny Webb (Andalucia Cajasol) completed the top six, with the British rider avoiding a nasty high side halfway through by managing to control his Aprilia machine admirably before going down gently when he ran off at turn ten.
Randy Krummenacher (Stipa-Molenaar Racing), Sandro Cortese (Avant Mitsubishi Ajo), Efrén Vázquez (Tuenti Racing) and Johann Zarco (WTR San Marino Team) were all inside the top ten.