may have topped the timesheets during the opening practice session at the Twin Ring Motegi, but Dani Pedrosa was the big news in MotoGP
. The Repsol Honda pilot, winner of two of the last three Grand Prix, crashed in the opening laps of the Free Practice 1, breaking his clavicle. Pedrosa will not compete in the race this weekend, all but assuring Jorge Lorenzo an early clench of the 2010 title.
Valentino Rossi back in chart-topping form, in spite of his lingering should injury.
Pedrosa was tossed from his RC212V after only two laps. X-rays confirmed three fractures to his left collarbone. His return date is unknown at this time, but the injury quashes any outside chances the Spaniard had at further cutting into Jorge Lorenzo’s title lead. In the last three rounds, Pedrosa had trimmed Lorenzo’s advantage from 77 to 56 points.
Sourcing a new engine from Yamaha, Rossi set the fastest pace on his final lap of the session. The Doctor was encouraged by the result, as much because of the fitness of his ailing shoulder as the new engine.
"I'm really happy about today,” said Rossi in a team press release, “it is honestly a big surprise for me to be first! I was expecting to suffer a lot here with my shoulder because there are so many hard braking areas but in fact they are all quite straight so I was happy to find I was okay. In fact I felt very good on the bike right from the start and we have done a great job here with the setting. I used the new engine and Yamaha have done an excellent job on it, it is especially better in fourth and fifth gears and everything is working very well.”
Now that Pedrosa is out, Andrea Dovizioso will be Honda's best hope for a home GP victory.
Pedrosa’s teammate, Andrea Dovizioso was second-fastest on the day, two-tenths behind Rossi. Completing the provisional front row was Lorenzo, exactly three-tenths off the pace of his factory Yamaha teammate. The points leader set his time without the new Yamaha engine.
“We can improve the traction a bit in some parts of the track but in general this was a good day and we are not so far off Valentino,” said Lorenzo, adding. “I don't want to think for now how Dani's situation will affect me, but I am sorry for him, it's very bad luck to be injured at this stage of the season."
Trailing Lorenzo by less than a tenth is Ducati’s Casey Stoner. The Aussie was the final rider to lap within a second of the leaders pace. American Ben Spies
was fifth-fastest aboard his Tech 3 Yamaha, with Interwetten Honda’s Hiroshi Aoyama tallying an impressive sixth at his home GP.
Colin Edwards was seventh-fastest, with the Texan less than a tenth off the pace of his teammate. Edwards was followed on the charts by Ducati’s Hector Barbera and Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi, with Capirex enjoying GP wins at the Japanese circuit back in his Ducati days.
Struggling at Motegi were Ducati’s Nicky Hayden and LCR Honda’s Randy de Puniet. The Frenchman ran-off during the session finishing the day 14th on the timesheet, meanwhile the American tucked the front and crashed en route to 13th-fastest.
2010 MotoGP Motegi Free Practice 1 Results:
1. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1'48.174
2. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1'48.387
3. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1'48.474
4. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 1'48.481
5. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1'49.302
6. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda) 1'49.357
7. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1'49.377
8. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 1'49.544
9. Loris Capirossi (Suzuki) 1'49.568
10. Marco Simoncelli (Honda) 1'49.581
11. Marco Melandri (Honda) 1'49.620
12. Alvaro Bautista (Suzuki) 1'49.644
13. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1'49.882
14. Randy de Puniet (Honda) 1'49.957
15. Aleix Espargaro (Ducati) 1'50.158