The second half of the 2012 MotoGP Championship got underway Friday with the first of three free practices at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
And under typical California skies in Monterey, it was Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa who topped the first free practice session, the Repsol Honda rider posting a 1:21.424 towards the end of the 45-minute session.
Pedrosa, who finished on the podium in eight of nine rounds, including a win at Sachsenring, utilized an updated chassis and engine during the first free practice session. The Spaniard, who finished third at Laguna Seca last season, was closely stalked by his fellow countryman and current points leader, Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo.
Lorenzo posted a 1:21.498, a mere 0.074 of a seconds behind Pedrosa. In third, 0.405 behind Pedrosa, was Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner. The Australian is using a new engine in an older chassis. He was quick in the beginning of FP1, but couldn’t keep up with Pedrosa and Lorenzo towards the end of the session.
The final rider to post within a second of Pedrosa was Ben Spies, who announced he’ll be leaving Yamaha Factory Racing at the end of the 2012 MotoGP Championship. The Texan was 0.515 of a second slower than Pedrosa, and only 0.110 of a second behind Stoner.
The man who will be seeking his fifth podium of the season, Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Andrea Dovizioso, was fifth fastest, 1.185 seconds behind Pedrosa. Dovi’s teammate Cal Crutchlow followed in sixth, 1.248 seconds behind.
Up next was Ducati Team’s Valentino Rossi, who is using a new engine at Laguna Seca. The nine-time World Champion finished 1.792 seconds behind Pedrosa, and 0.033 of a second ahead of LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl in eighth.
Ninth quickest was Rossi’s teammate Nick Hayden, who announced Friday a year-long extension with Ducati Team; the Kentuckian was 1.886 seconds behind Pedrosa. Rounding out the top 10 fastest times in FP1 was San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista, the Spaniard 2.113 seconds off the lead.
The top CRT time went to NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards, the American piloting his Suter-BMW to the 11th quickest time, 3.481 seconds behind Pedrosa.
The MotoGP grid also welcomed back Cardion AB Racing’s Karel Abraham from injury, with the Czech rider posting the 13th quickest time of the session. Pramac Racing Team’s Héctor Barberá is a notable absentee this weekend after breaking his left leg in a motocross accident last weekend. He is replaced by Toni Elías, who was 15th in his first premier-class outing since last season. The line up also saw Attack Performance wildcard Steve Rapp take to the track on the US company’s in-house built APR CRT machine. He finished his first outing in 22nd.
2012 Laguna Seca MotoGP Free Practice 1 Results:
|1.||26||Dani PEDROSA||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||263.8||1’21.424|
|2.||99||Jorge LORENZO||SPA||Yamaha Factory Racing||Yamaha||262.6||1’21.498||0.074 / 0.074|
|3.||1||Casey STONER||AUS||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||263.3||1’21.829||0.405 / 0.331|
|4.||11||Ben SPIES||USA||Yamaha Factory Racing||Yamaha||263.0||1’21.939||0.515 / 0.110|
|5.||4||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||ITA||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||262.8||1’22.609||1.185 / 0.670|
|6.||35||Cal CRUTCHLOW||GBR||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||264.8||1’22.672||1.248 / 0.063|
|7.||46||Valentino ROSSI||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||266.9||1’23.216||1.792 / 0.544|
|8.||6||Stefan BRADL||GER||LCR Honda MotoGP||Honda||251.6||1’23.249||1.825 / 0.033|
|9.||69||Nicky HAYDEN||USA||Ducati Team||Ducati||260.0||1’23.310||1.886 / 0.061|
|10.||19||Alvaro BAUTISTA||SPA||San Carlo Honda Gresini||Honda||258.9||1’23.537||2.113 / 0.227|
|11.||5||Colin EDWARDS||USA||NGM Mobile Forward Racing||Suter||253.9||1’24.905||3.481 / 1.368|
|12.||41||Aleix ESPARGARO||SPA||Power Electronics Aspar||ART||242.5||1’25.169||3.745 / 0.264|
|13.||17||Karel ABRAHAM||CZE||Cardion AB Motoracing||Ducati||255.8||1’25.215||3.791 / 0.046|
|14.||54||Mattia PASINI||ITA||Speed Master||ART||240.6||1’25.488||4.064 / 0.273|
|15.||24||Toni ELIAS||SPA||Pramac Racing Team||Ducati||255.5||1’25.816||4.392 / 0.328|
|16.||68||Yonny HERNANDEZ||COL||Avintia Blusens||BQR||236.8||1’25.904||4.480 / 0.088|
|17.||77||James ELLISON||GBR||Paul Bird Motorsport||ART||234.4||1’25.931||4.507 / 0.027|
|18.||9||Danilo PETRUCCI||ITA||Came IodaRacing Project||Ioda||237.1||1’26.125||4.701 / 0.194|
|19.||51||Michele PIRRO||ITA||San Carlo Honda Gresini||FTR||243.2||1’26.421||4.997 / 0.296|
|20.||14||Randy DE PUNIET||FRA||Power Electronics Aspar||ART||233.0||1’26.703||5.279 / 0.282|
|21.||22||Ivan SILVA||SPA||Avintia Blusens||BQR||236.8||1’27.102||5.678 / 0.399|
|15||Steve RAPP||USA||Attack Performance||APR||234.4||1’29.814||8.390 / 2.712|