Japan: Pedrosa again fastest in practice 2 Still in with the slimmest of mathematical chance of becoming 2007 MotoGP World Champion, Dani Pedrosa was the fastest rider at Motegi on day one of MotoGP practice for the A-Style Grand Prix of Japan.
The Spaniard, who also made the unsurprising announcement today that he would be continuing as a Honda rider for at least the next two seasons, cut over a second and a half off his fastest time from this morning with a 1’47.865 lap of the Japanese track originally designed to test Honda bikes.
For the moment, Pedrosa has been the only rider to have gone round in under 1’48, with his closest rival today being Randy de Puniet - nearly four tenths of a second behind him. Just over a tenth of a second separated the remainder of the top six, all using Bridgestone tires chasing the times of the Michelin shod timesheet-topper.
Said top six consisted of Marco Melandri, who sneaked onto the podium last season and rides his last Japanese race for Gresini Honda this weekend, John Hopkins, possible World Champion Casey Stoner and Japanese wild card Kousuke Akiyoshi. Stoner can win the 2007 title this weekend by finishing ahead of Valentino Rossi, and a repeat of the excellent form shown by Loris Capirossi onboard the Ducati at Motegi in recent years would allow him to do so in style, but he will need to up his pace a notch if he is to take the crown with a win.
Akiyoshi impressed onboard the Suzuki GSV-R800 which he has previously ridden this season at Jerez in another one-off appearance.
Motegi race winner in 2005 and 2006 Loris Capirossi was just outside the top six, and ran off track in the afternoon session. He was joined in taking an excursion onto the gravel trap by reigning World Champion Nicky Hayden, who finished ninth behind Anthony West. Home rider Makoto Tamada completed the top ten as the highest placing Dunlop rider.
Sparks flew in the early stages, as Stoner lashed out at Carlos Checa as the Spanish veteran followed him around the track. The Ducati rider further showed his grievance by indicating his position in the World Championship with one of his digits. Valentino Rossi had further mechanical problems with his Yamaha M1, having to return to his garage with 20 minutes to go as steam spewed out of the back of his bike. The Italian returned to the track soon afterwards, with no repeat of the problem. .
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