Dani Pedroa led Repsol Honda’s assault on the timesheets during practice just 0.054 seconds ahead of Casey Stoner.
Repsol Honda riders came out in full force during the first day of MotoGP practice at Motegi to kick start their team’s home race. Leading the charge was Dani Pedrosa who posted a best time of 1’46.790 to take top honors on Friday just 0.054 seconds ahead of Casey Stoner.
“We did a good job today,” said Pedrosa. “In the morning we took a good direction and this allowed us to improve a lot in the afternoon, by a second, and this is very important. Tomorrow we have to focus on the set up of the bike; maybe the weather will change a little bit, so we have to be aware of the conditions and try to be fast anytime.”
Andrea Dovizoso rounded out the top-three times just a tenth behind the Aussie as all three teammates also secured the top speeds during the session. Overall practice times were much faster than last year’s Japanese GP since a new track surface had to be put down to fix damage caused by the earthquake and tsunami of March 11th.
Honda’s presence up front continued on the first day with San Carlo Honda’s Marco Simoncelli earning fourth in the timesheets. The Italian was 0.236 seconds off the pace of Dovi and followed by Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo, who snagged fifth in the order with his time of 1’47.310.
Casey Stoner ran out of time to make corrections in the final practice session but knows what direction he needs to take.
“We improved the lap time quite a lot from the morning to the afternoon session but it’s still not enough, the competition is very strong here,” Lorenzo said. “It is going to be a very difficult weekend to fight for the podium and the victory.”
American Nicky Hayden trailed the Spaniard by 0.071 seconds and was the best finisher for Ducati during practice in sixth. Meanwhile San Carlo Honda’ Hiroshi Aoyama recorded the seventh-best lap at his home circuit. Ducati’s Valentino Rossi is still far from being competitive after finishing more than a second off the pace of Pedrosa, but the Italian remarked minor improvement compared to the previous round.
“We made progress with the bike throughout the day, and as a result we improved our lap times, dropping below 1:48,” said Rossi. “The pace is still far from the top, but not bad for now. There are a number of things to resolve, but we’re definitely not in the situation we were at Aragon, where we always had big problems with rear grip.”
Mapfre Aspar’s Hector Barbera posted ninth in the charts followed by Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards, who rounded out the top-10 more than 1.2 seconds adrift of the leader. Yamaha’s Ben Spies is off to a difficult start in Japan after suffering food poisoning. The American finished eighth in the morning session, but exhaustion quickly set in and he had to retire from the afternoon practice prematurely.
“What a shocking start to the weekend, I don’t think I’ve ever been as sick as I was on the journey over here, I was nearly not allowed on the plane,” Spies said. “I’m slowly getting my strength back thanks to the great guys at Clinica but didn’t have enough to ride properly in the second session. I started to get tunnel vision on the straight and just felt it was too dangerous to be out there.”
Motegi MotoGP Practice Results 2011:
1. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1’46.790
2. Casey Stoner (Honda) 1’46.844
3. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1’46.952
4. Marco Simoncelli (Honda) 1’47.188
5. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’47.310
6. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1’47.381
7. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda) 1’47.785
8. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1’47.975
9. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 1’48.055
10. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1’48.076
11. Alvaro Bautista (Suzuki) 1’48.097
12. Randy de Puniet (Ducati) 1’48.374
13. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1’48.379
14. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1’48.567
15. Toni Elias (Honda) 1’48.743
Interwetten Paddock Moto2’s Thomas Luthi recorded the best time of the day in the Moto2 field on Friday. The Swiss rider was 0.180 seconds faster than championship leader Stefan Bradl, followed by Gresini Racing’s Yuki Takahashi in third. Technomag-CIP’s Dominique Aegerter was leading the timesheets 15 minutes into the session, but ultimately got bumped off the top of the charts to finish just one-tenth behind Takahashi. HP Tuenti Speed Up’s Pol Espargaro improved his pace from the morning session to finish fifth just 0.057 seconds ahead of Tech 3 racing’s Bradley Smith. Blusens-STX’s Esteve Rabat, Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol’s Marc Marquez, Marc VDS Racing’s Mika Kallio and Pons HP 40’s Aleix Espargaro rounded out the top-10 times in seventh through tenth, respectively.
Stefan Bradl claimed second in the timesheets on Friday and is currently leading the Moto2 field by six points.
Motegi Moto2 Practice Results 2011:
1. Thomas Luthi (Suter) 1’53.002
2. Stefan Bradl (Kalex) 1’53.182
3. Yuki Takahashi (Moriwaki) 1’53.354
4. Dominique Aegerter (Suter) 1’53.465
5. Pol Espargaro (FTR) 1’53.476
6. Bradley Smith (Tech 3) 1’53.533
7. Esteve Rabat (FTR) 1’53.583
8. Marz Marquez (Suter) 1’53.600
9. Mika Kallio (Suter) 1’53.604
10. Aleix Espargaro (Pons Kalex) 1’53.813
11. Andrea Iannone (Suter) 1’53.943
12. Xavier Simeon (Tech 3) 1’53.948
13. Takaaki Nakagami (Suter) 1’53.953
14. Alex de Angelis (JiR Moto2) 1’53.965
15. Scott Redding (Suter) 1’54.062