On the first day of free practice for the MotoGP grid at the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix it was Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa who was on scorching form in the premier-class as he topped the timesheets in the afternoon session ahead of Ben Spies and Jorge Lorenzo.
Pedrosa’s superb time in the high 1.37s, breaking the previous track record, was sufficient to oust Yamaha Factory Racing’s charging Spies into second, who looked back to his old self as he lapped his home circuit. His teammate Lorenzo took third spot, yet aborted his final hot lap in the second session on the final turn, denying a true indication of his outright pace.
He did however state that he is seeking improved front-end feel in corner entry. Fourth place went to Monster Yamaha Tech 3′s Andrea Dovizioso, who was only marginally behind Lorenzo on board his satellite machine. Casey Stoner’s best lap saw him finish the day in fifth, although the Repsol Honda rider had electronics and rear suspension issues during the session, meaning he spent the final five minutes on his number two bike.
British rider Cal Crutchlow took sixth spot on board his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine, doing well to recover from a crash early on in the morning session.
In seventh, San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista was over 1.2 seconds off the top time set by the factory Honda of Pedrosa, and will be looking for significant improvements tomorrow. Eighth place went to fellow Honda satellite rider Stefan Bradl, who is taking to the Indianapolis track for the first time on his LCR Honda MotoGP bike. Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi completed the top ten, after a disappointing session for the Italian outfit.
Top CRT spot went to Power Electronics Aspar’s Randy de Puniet, while the grid also welcomed GPTech wildcard Aaron Yates and Attack Performance’s Steve Rapp. Rapp was however garage bound for the afternoon session as his team struggled with bike issues.
Both US wildcards finished at the bottom of the timesheets, yet showed promising improvement in their stints out on track. The majority of riders started the session on the softer option rear tyre, yet switched to the harder option as the track temperature increased. Pedrosa’s hot lap was set on the harder option rear during a seven-lap stint at the end. Much of the talk after the session was about how dirty the mostly unused track surface was, and that most expect lap times to drop the more rubber is laid down over the weekend.
Pramac Racing Team fielded Toni Elías for the afternoon session after Héctor Barberá had a big highside in the morning run out. Barberá, who crashed heavily in the final turn suffered fractures in his dorsal vertebrae 5, 6 and 8, rendering him unfit for this weekend. He is currently at Indianapolis Methodist Hospital, where his is undergoing further checks to vertebrae 5, which was previously damaged in a serious crash in Japan 2008. The Spaniard will be kept there overnight.
Photos by Ara Ashjian