Spaniard Dani Pedrosa led the first day of MotoGP practice at the 2009 Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Friday, Aug. 28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, turning a top lap of 1 minute, 51.507 seconds in wet conditions on the No. 3 Repsol Honda Team entry.
Nicky Hayden, of nearby Owensboro, Ky., was second-quickest at 1:51.662 on the No. 69 Ducati Team bike, and defending Red Bull Indianapolis GP winner Valentino Rossi was third at 1:51.814 on the No. 46 Fiat Yamaha Team MotoGP entry on the Speedway’s 16-turn, 2.621-mile road course.
Rossi’s teammate No. 99 Jorge Lorenzo was fourth-quickest at 1:51.894, and Alex de Angelis was fifth at 1:52.264 on the No. 15 San Carlo Honda Gresini machine.
Rain began falling at IMS approximately 15 minutes before the start of the MotoGP practice session, reminding riders of the wet conditions they experienced at IMS on Friday and Race Day of the inaugural event in 2008.
"This was a very good start to the weekend, and in wet conditions we are looking in good shape," Pedrosa said. "It was raining for the whole session, and we had good grip even though there were some big patches of standing water around the track. I felt confident and was able to push hard, and actually it’s been a quite long time since I’ve felt that confident in wet conditions and been happy to push to the maximum. If it’s dry tomorrow, that’s also good for us, even though the only thing we can really take forward from today’s session is the gearing information."
Weather for Saturday’s qualifying and Sunday’s second-annual Red Bull Indianapolis GP is forecasted for dry conditions and mild temperatures. Track activity takes place rain or shine in MotoGP and the supporting 250cc and 125cc classes.
Hayden considers Indianapolis Motor Speedway his home track on the global MotoGP circuit as he lives only three hours to the south. He was mid-pack through most of the one-hour session and dramatically jumped to second on his last high-speed lap.
"Obviously, I need dry setup time, but we were up front so I felt quite good," Hayden said. "The team did a good job and made a couple of changes on the front suspension that allowed us to turn a lot better. It was slippery and then quite technical because parts of the track was wetter than others. If I get a good result, I don’t care if it snows."
In his first year with Ducati, 2006 MotoGP World Champion Hayden has struggled and considered Friday’s result a nice boost.
"It’s been a hard season for me; everybody knows that I’ve had big crashes and not a lot of great results and my job is on the line," he said. "So it is good to come here and man up with it. But I’ve got to do it Sunday. Ain’t nobody going to remember Friday afternoon."
Both of the American MotoGP riders were in the top 10 in Friday practice, as Colin Edwards of Houston was eighth at 1:53.128 on the No. 5 Monster Yamaha Tech 3.
"You know, we had a hurricane here last year," Edwards said. "We waited a whole year to come back and ride in some rain again. But it is what it is. Hopefully we’ll get some dry weather tomorrow, especially Sunday. I’d like to give these fans a good show out here. Enough rain; let’s start over."
French rider Jules Cluzel was fastest in the 250cc World Championship practice with a lap of 1:53.512 on the No. 16 Matteoni Racing Aprilia. The entire practice, which followed the MotoGP session, took place in steady rain showers.
In 125cc World Championship practice, 2008 125cc Red Bull Indianapolis GP race winner Nicolas Terol of Spain was fastest at 1:50.603 on the No. 18 Jack & Jones Team Aprilia in dry conditions.
Public gates open for Saturday’s practice and qualifying sessions at 7 a.m. (ET). Track activity begins with 125cc practice at 9 a.m. MotoGP and 250cc practices follow at 9:55 and 11:10 a.m., respectively.
Red Bull Indianapolis GP qualifying for the MotoGP class is from 1:55-2:55 p.m. The 125cc and 250cc classes qualify at 1 p.m. and 3:10 p.m., respectively. There will be a demonstration of the new Moto2 class at 4 p.m. and Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider James Toseland and his band, Crash, will play a live one-hour set starting at 4:30 p.m. on the 6th Street Stage.
The second Red Bull Indianapolis GP is set for Sunday, Aug. 30.