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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