Dani Pedrosa was the leading light in the first practice at Misano today, as the Repsol Honda rider found an immediate pace that was substantially faster than that of the rest of the MotoGP field.
A best effort of 1:34.772 made Pedrosa the only rider under 1:35 in the hour-long session, and saw him just over six-tenths of a second faster than teammate, Andrea Dovizioso.
“It’s been really a good start here in Misano compared to last year and I’m very happy about that,” Pedrosa said. “We are coming from a strong result at the last race and it’s important to keep the momentum going, which we have done so far.
“But we need to remain very concentrated and focused because we still have some areas to improve, and I’m sure our rivals will also go quicker tomorrow. Our pace has been quite fast today and Andrea is close to the front as well, so this is a good sign for the team.
“Here the grid positions are very important again because the first corner is close to the start and it’s a tight bend. Because of this we need to make sure we have a good pace tomorrow so that we can qualify well, and also so that we are ready for another long and tough race. I can say this was one of my best Friday practices, but I’m not going to relax at all.”
The Italian was second as he began his preparations for what he hopes will be a home GP to celebrate and, with a best time of 1:35.384, was 0.060s ahead of championship leader Jorge Lorenzo.
“Today was quite difficult for us, more so than we expected. It’s not my physical condition, I feel completely recovered from the hard weekend in Indianapolis, but we really struggled today and I didn’t have enough confidence in my bike or in the tyres,” Lorenzo said.
“We have some small problems in braking, corner speed and acceleration so I don’t feel like I can ride how I want to at the moment. We are still third so it’s not too bad but we have some time to make up if we are to match Pedrosa. I have great confidence that my team will find the right way to improve and I hope we will be in better shape tomorrow.”
The Fiat Yamaha rider was just in front of his teammate and race winner at Misano for the past two years, Valentino Rossi, who was the final rider to get within a second of Pedrosa’s time.
“I’m quite happy because we did a good job during today’s practice, especially towards the end when we made a big improvement to the setting of the bike and I was able to make some faster lap times,” Rossi commented. “We have some more things to try, some electronics and some tyre settings, but I already feel confident so this has been a good way to start.
“We’re quite far from Pedrosa, who was very impressive today, but we’re close to Dovizioso and Lorenzo. Tomorrow we will try to find some tenths and improve our time a bit. My physical condition is okay, I don’t have too much pain but this track has two or three hard braking sections to the right and I suffer a bit with my shoulder at those points.”
The grouped teammate theme continued with Monster Yamaha Tech 3 pair Colin Edwards and Ben Spies in fifth and sixth respectively. Edwards was just under three-tenths behind Rossi, whilst Spies trailed his fellow American by just under six-hundredths.
Ducati Team duo Nicky Hayden and Casey Stoner completed the top eight in the session. Hayden had a minor run off at the very end whilst Stoner endured a difficult practice, struggling to find a satisfactory set-up on his Desmosedici GP10 that he hopes will be remedied in tomorrow’s second practice ahead of qualifying.
“That was a difficult session for us, basically because we didn’t have any information from last year because I didn’t race here,” Stoner explained. “The characteristics of the current engine are very different to the one we used in 2008 so it requires a completely different gearbox set-up and obviously that affects a lot of different things.
“We took a bit of a shot in the dark with what we thought would work but unfortunately it wasn’t quite right and we had to spend a lot of time today making adjustments. Hopefully the data we gathered can give us a much better idea of where to start from tomorrow and I’m sure we can quickly close the gap to the guys at the top.
“It is too early to worry but we need to make a lot of progress in the sessions that remain before what is a very important race for everybody at Ducati.”
Italians Marco Melandri and Loris Capirossi, who is set to make his 200th premier class start in Sunday’s race, rounded out the top ten.
Alex de Angelis was on form on his return to Moto2 action today, setting the fastest time in the first practice of his home round, the Gran Premio Aperol di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini. Riding as a substitute for the injured Yusuke Teshima on the JiR Moto2 team, De Angelis posted a best lap of 1:40.064 on the Motobi chassis.
Julián Simón and Shoya Tomizawa followed in second and third, both within three-tenths of De Angelis, with Claudio Corti of the Forward Racing team staking an early claim for prominence in a weekend in which all Italian riders will be hoping to do well.
Championship leader Toni Elías completed the top five just 0.424s adrift of De Angelis, with another impressive return to action coming from Mattia Pasini in sixth. The Italian is riding as a wild card for the Italtrans STR team this weekend and was in bullish mode as he squeezed his Suter machine through gaps that would have left other riders hesitating!
Héctor Faubel, Jules Cluzel, Simone Corsi – who had a mechanical issue towards the end – and Gabor Talmacsi completed the top ten, with the Hungarian’s teammate, Andrea Iannone, 11th despite problems with a troublesome wrist.
Scott Redding, fresh off the back of his first Moto2 podium last time out at Indianapolis, was 12th, with wild card Ferruccio Lamborghini a notable 14th.
Nico Terol was the quickest 125cc rider off the mark in the opening practice session at Misano today, as the Bancaja Aspar rider set the best time of the hour on his Aprilia. A lap of 1:44.229 from the Spaniard was enough to take top spot on the timesheet by a margin of 0.252s ahead of championship leader and title rival Marc Márquez.
Terol is going for his third consecutive win this weekend whilst Márquez is aiming for his first victory since Sachsenring, with the two separated by just four points in the standings. The Red Bull Ajo Motorsport rider, who leads the title chase, was just over two-tenths faster than Pol Espargaró, who trails Terol by a single point going into the weekend. He was the final rider under 1’45”.
Efrén Vázquez had led the session briefly and his time of 1’45.007 placed him fourth, despite a minor technical glitch towards the end. Podium finisher at Indianapolis Sandro Cortese was fifth, with Esteve Rabat and Bradley Smith sixth and seventh respectively. The British rider will be aiming to considerably reduce the 1.209s gap that stood between him and his teammate in first tomorrow.
Completing the top ten for the session were Racing Team Germany’s Tomoyoshi Koyama, Andalucia Cajasol’s Danny Webb and Stipa-Molenaar Racing’s Randy Krummenacher.