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Japan: Pedrosa tops opening practice
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa was the man on the pace in the first MotoGP free practice outing at the A-Style Grand Prix of Japan, as he put in the best time of 1’48.249s right at the end of the hour long session.

The MotoGP riders made their first appearance of the weekend under a cloudless blue sky and with the temperatures at Motegi already reaching 30 degrees Celsius. It was no sweat for Pedrosa however, as he jumped ahead of second fastest participant Casey Stoner by a 0.242s margin on the last of his 23 laps.

Behind that pair on the timesheet was Honda Gresini’s Marco Melandri who is back towards full fitness levels after his recent series of problems and hopes to be fully competitive in Japan over the next 48 hours - having started just 0.430s off Pedrosa’s pace.

Kawasaki’s Randy de Puniet was fourth quickest and just 0.010s slower than Melandri, with the top five completed by Estoril race winner Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha).

Rizla Suzuki’s John Hopkins was just behind Rossi and just over half a second off Pedrosa’s best – meaning that six different teams were represented in the top six.

Hopkins’ compatriot Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda), who may not be able to call himself the World Champion much longer than this weekend, was seventh, whilst three additional Honda riders featured in the top ten at the circuit owned by the Japanese manufacturing giant – namely Toni Elias (Honda Gresini), Carlos Checa (Honda LCR) and Shinya Nakano (Konica Minolta Honda).

Meanwhile, Suzuki wild card Kousuke Akiyoshi made a notable start to the weekend in 11th - with a time less than a second down on Pedrosa’s.


  No. Rider             Bike    Time    
1 26  Dani PEDROSA       HONDA  1'48.249
 2 27 Casey STONER       DUCATI 1'48.491
 3 33 Marco MELANDRI      HONDA 1'48.679
 4 14 Randy DE PUNIET  KAWASAKI 1'48.689
 5 46 Valentino ROSSI    YAMAHA 1'48.736
 6 21 John HOPKINS       SUZUKI 1'48.766
 7  1 Nicky HAYDEN        HONDA 1'48.826
 8 24 Toni ELIAS          HONDA 1'48.827
 9  7 Carlos CHECA        HONDA 1'48.847
10 56 Shinya NAKANO       HONDA 1'48.986
11 64 Kousuke AKIYOSHI   SUZUKI 1'49.127
12 50 Sylvain GUINTOLI   YAMAHA 1'49.207
13  5 Colin EDWARDS      YAMAHA 1'49.368
14 65 Loris CAPIROSSI    DUCATI 1'49.527
15 13 Anthony WEST     KAWASAKI 1'49.960
16  4 Alex BARROS        DUCATI 1'50.037
17 71 Chris VERMEULEN    SUZUKI 1'50.210
18  6 Makoto TAMADA      YAMAHA 1'50.237
19 87 Akira YANAGAWA   KAWASAKI 1'50.606
20 80 Kurtis ROBERTS     KR212V 1'51.167
21 72 Shinichi ITO       DUCATI 1'52.374

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