Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso was the fastest MotoGP rider on Friday at the Grand Prix de France as the rain returned at Le Mans and cut short the work that the teams could undertake on the first day.
The first run since the reversion to 60-minute practice sessions, the afternoon action was cut short when rain fell midway through the session, at which point Dovizioso had set the fastest lap with a best effort of 1’36.136.
The second quickest rider in the curtailed practice was Australian former World Champion Casey Stoner (Ducati Marlboro) with a time of 1’36.194 on the eighth of just ten laps, whilst in-form home rider Randy de Puniet was just behind the front two.
The 2007 Le Mans race-winner Chris Vermeulen (Rizla Suzuki) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) also featured in the top five, both within half a second of Italian youngster Dovizioso.
Fiat Yamaha colleagues Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo were sixth and seventh fastest, respectively, at the track where they completed a memorable one-two last year.
Rossi’s fellow Italians Marco Melandri (Hayate Racing) and Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki) also featured in a top ten rounded off by The Doctor’s former team-mate Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3).
After the rain arrived a number of riders went back out on track towards the end of the session on slick tyres, but they were unable to improve their times. Despite the precipitation there were no crashes to report and the MotoGP stars will be back in action for another hour-long run on Saturday morning at 9.55am, before qualifying on Saturday afternoon at 1.55pm.
Mapfre Aspar rider Álvaro Bautista’s best time of 1’39.302 on the penultimate of his 25 laps was enough to make him the number one 250cc attendee.
Following the rain that had disrupted the MotoGP session shortly beforehand, the track soon dried out, Bautista starting the weekend in the best possible way by lapping 0.113s ahead of championship leader Hiroshi Aoyama (Scot Racing).
Meanwhile, the Spaniard’s Aspar colleague Mike di Meglio looked comfortable again in third place, trailing his team-mate by less than two tenths of a second.
Héctor Barberá (Pepe World Team Aprilia) and Metis Gilera’s World Champion Marco Simoncelli finished fourth and fifth fastest, both suffering crashes in the session.
A split between the Balatonring Team and Gabor Talmacsi was confirmed earlier in the day, with Angel Rodriguez replacing the Hungarian for the immediate future.
In the 125cc outing, series leader Andrea Iannone (Ongetta Team I.S.P.A) topped the timesheet, as he successfully began his quest to bounce back from his Jerez crash.
The Italian set the pace with a best effort of 1’45.258 at the famous French venue, laying down his best time on the last of his 22 laps, to put him 0.211s ahead of second quickest participant Julián Simón (Bancaja Aspar).
With Simón’s team-mates Sergio Gadea and Bradley Smith lapping third and fifth fastest, sandwiching Joan Olivé (Derbi Racing Team) on the timesheet, the Bancaja Aspar team was represented heavily in the top five.