It wan’t until the last moments of his hour-long MotoGP practice session on Friday, but on that final lap around Motegi for FP1, Valentino Rossi set the fastest time of 1:48.174.
Piloting his Fiat Yamaha M1, Rossi edged out Respol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso by 0.213 of a second. Dovi posted some quick times on his RC212V, but his teammate Dani Pedrosa wasn’t so lucky.
During the second lap of Free Practice on Friday, the Spaniard went down, sustaining a double fracture to his left collarbone. Pedrosa limped off the track, and opted to undergo surgery in Barcelona Friday night. He reported he hopes to be back for the Malaysian GP next week, though its unlikely.
Pedrosa currently sits 56 points series’ leader, Jorge Lorenzo. He is the only within reach of Lorenzo, and missing this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix is going to have a huge impact on his progress of narrowing the lead gap.
Dani Pedrosa says: “Another injury to contend with is really not what I needed – I don’t feel as though I deserve it. Anyway, once the doctors had checked everything here, we decided it was best to go back to Spain for the operation. I hope it goes as well as possible and that I can return to racing soon.”
With Pedrosa out, Dovizioso carried the Repsol Team by having the second fastest time behind the nine-time world champion. But it was Rossi who pleased his fans, the Italian on top of the time sheets for a change, very unlike his recent performances.
Something may have worked for Rossi on the Yamaha; For the first time this season, Rossi used an unreported upgraded engine specification, and found improvements in higher gears during his 27 laps on the track.
Valentino Rossi says: “I’m really happy about today, 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. I know it’s only Friday but it’s a long time since I have been in front like this so I have to enjoy this sweet feeling! I know there’s a chance of rain for the rest of the weekend, which is a pity, and if it is wet we will do our best. I am sorry for Dani; I saw the crash from far off and it’s bad luck, I hope it is not too bad.”
Lorenzo was third fastest, posting a time just three-tents of a second slower than his teammate. Ducati Team rider Casey Stoner posted the fourth fastest time aboard his GP10, while the rookie Ben Spies was fifth fastest on his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha.
Besides Pedrosa’s crash, many riders ran off the track during FP1, including LCR Honda rider Randy de Puniet, San Carlo Honda Gresini Team rider Marco Melandri, and Pramac Racing’s Aleix Espargaró. Nicky Hayden crashed with five minutes remaining in the practice session, but didn’t sustain any injuries.
2010 Motegi MotoGP Friday Free Practice Results:
Pos. Rider Manu. Nat. Total Time
1 Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 1’48.174
2 Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 1’48.387
3 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 1’48.474
4 Casey Stoner Ducati AUS 1’48.481
5 Ben Spies Yamaha USA 1’49.302
6 Hiroshi Aoyama Honda JPN 1’49.357
7 Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 1’49.377
8 Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 1’49.544
9 Loris Capirossi Suzuki ITA 1’49.568
10 Marco Simoncelli Honda ITA 1’49.581
11 Marco Melandri Honda ITA 1’49.620
12 Alvaro Bautista Suzuki ESP 1’49.644
13 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 1’49.882
14 Randy De Puniet Honda FRA 1’49.957
15 Aleix Espargaro Ducati ESP 1’50.158