MotoGP Laguna Seca Free Practice 1 2012

July 27, 2012
Bart Madson
By Bart Madson
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Bashing away at the MotoUSA keyboard for nine years now, Madson lends his scribbling and editorial input on everything from bike reviews to industry analysis and motorcycle racing reports.

Dani Pedrosa led the way as MotoGP action gets underway at the Laguna Seca Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix. The Spanish rider topped the Free Practice 1 timesheets, besting Factory Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo and his Repsol Honda teammate Casey Stoner. Ben Spies was the fastest of the four-rider American contingent, finishing fourth-fastest in the morning session.
Dani Pedrosa will continue on with the Repsol Honda squad  racing alongside rookie Marc Marquez in 2013.
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa leads the MotoGP field as the 2012 Laguna Seca US Grand Prix gets underway with FP1.

The three front-runners set the pace early, with Stoner and Lorenzo both taking turns atop the running order as MotoGP riders reacquainted themselves with the California circuit. Pedrosa seized the top position later in the session, just a few hundredths ahead of Lorenzo but a full four-tenths ahead of his HRC teammate.

Spies was the only remaining rider to dip under the 1’22 mark, with the Laguna circuit record 1’21.376 set by Stoner in 2010 (outright best 1’20.700 also set by Stoner, in 2008). The Texan, who shocked the MotoGP paddock with his announcement on Tuesday that he was leaving the factory Yamaha team at the end of the season, was chased by familiar foes in the form of Tech 3 satellite riders Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow.

Valentino Rossi, rumored to be heading to that vacated factory Yamaha seat, was the fastest Ducati in FP1. The Doctor lapped seventh-fastest, his 1’23.216 best a dispiriting 1.792 adrift of the leader’s pace. Rossi is followed by LCR Honda rookie Stefan Bradl and his current factory Ducati teammate Nicky Hayden. The Kentucky Kid, a two-time Laguna Seca winner (2005 & 2006), took to the track following breaking news that he had inked a one-year extension with Ducati – his teammate for 2013 still undetermined.

As for the remaining Americans, Colin Edwards humbled the two satellite Ducatis by placing 11th on the Forward Racing CRT, meanwhile AMA Pro Racing’s Steve Rapp was the slowest on the grid in his MotoGP wild card debut. Rapp is piloting the Attack Performance CRT and will look to close more than two seconds on the nearest CRT and nearly five seconds on Edwards in the afternoon FP2.

A second Claiming Rules Team rider, Aspar’s Aleix Expargaro, also bested the prototype Ducatis piloted by Karel Abraham (Cardion AB) and Toni Elias (Pramac Racing). Abraham marks his return to action following injury in 13th, while former MotoGP competitor Toni Elias was 15th as the Moto2 regular replaces the injured Hector Barbera.

MotoGP Laguna Seca Free Practice 1 Results:
1. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1’21.424
2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’21.498
3. Casey Stoner (Honda) 1’21.829
4. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1’21.939
5. Andrea Dovizioso (Yamaha) 1’22.609
6. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1’22.672
7. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1’23.216
8. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 1’23.249
9. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1’23.310
10. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1’23.537
11. Colin Edwards (Forward) 1’24.905
12. Aleix Espargaro (Aspar) 1’25.169
13. Karel Abraham (Ducati) 1’25.215
14. Mattia Pasini (Aspar) 1’25.488
15. Toni Elias (Ducati) 1’25.816
16. Yonny Hernandez (Avintia) 1’25.904
17. James Ellison (PBM) 1’25.931
18. Danilo Petrucci (Ioda) 1’26.125
19. Michele Pirro (Gresini) 1’26.421
20. Randy de Puniet (Aspar) 1’26.703
21. Ivan Silva (Avintia) 1’27.102
22. Steve Rapp (Attack Performance) 1’29.814

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