In a morning session at the Grand Prix de France which saw Sete Gibernau crash and rule himself out of the rest of the weekend due to a fractured collarbone, there was far better luck for another MotoGP veteran, Colin Edwards.
The American Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider, who was on the podium last year at Le Mans, demonstrated his strengths at the French circuit again on Saturday morning as he laid down a 1’34.996 marker, a second faster than anything achieved on Friday and half a second up on his closest rival in the session.
Second best was the improving Dani Pedrosa who has a strong smaller class record at this circuit and is in good form at present as he overcomes a difficult preseason. The Spaniard was precisely 0.447s down on Edwards’ best time.
Usual suspects Jorge Lorenzo (Fiat Yamaha), Casey Stoner (Ducati Marlboro) and Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) all featured in the top five with lap times similar to Pedrosa’s, whereas World Champion Valentino Rossi was in the unfamiliar territory of eleventh place on the timesheet, more than 1.5s slower than former team-mate Edwards.
Rizla Suzuki pair Chris Vermeulen and Loris Capirossi were sixth and seventh respectively and were joined by LCR Honda’s Randy de Puniet, Tech 3′s James Toseland and Hayate Racing’s Marco Melandri in the top ten.