Valentino Rossi tops opening MotoGP practice in Japan The Fiat Yamaha Team made a flying start to the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi today in a close-fought practice session, with Valentino Rossi making a welcome return to the top of the time sheets and Jorge Lorenzo finishing the day in third.
Rossi was expecting this track to be particularly hard on his shoulder so he was delighted to find himself in less pain than last time out and feeling much stronger on the bike. The Italian used an upgraded engine specification for the first time today and his feedback was positive, finding particular improvements in the higher gears. He was fast from the very start of the session and then put in a blistering final lap to finish on top, two-tenths ahead of Andrea Dovizioso.
Championship leader and last year's race winner Lorenzo also made a good start to the weekend, putting in a consistently fast performance despite not yet having the engine upgrade. Lorenzo has one less engine left from his allocation than Rossi at this stage of the season so he is likely to wait until later in the weekend to use the new one. He is hopeful that he and his crew can make some small improvements to their rear traction tomorrow but he is already in good shape and finished the day three-tenths off his team-mate. The Mallorcan's only championship rival, Dani Pedrosa, fell during the session and is expected to undergo surgery tomorrow to fix a broken collarbone. Valentino Rossi
Valentino Rossi - Position: 1st Time: 1'48.147 Laps: 27 "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."
Practice Results from Motegi 1. Valentino Rossi 1m 48.174I TA YAMAHA Fiat Yamaha Team 2. Andrea Dovizioso 1m 48.387 ITA HONDA Repsol Honda Team 3. Jorge Lorenzo 1m 48.474 SPA YAMAHA Fiat Yamaha Team 4. Casey Stoner 1m 48.481 AUS DUCATI Ducati Marlboro Team 5. Ben Spie s1m 49.302 USA YAMAHA Tech 3 Yamaha 6. Hiroshi Aoyama 1m 49.357 JPN HONDA Interwetten Honda MotoGP 7. Colin Edwards 1m 49.377 USA YAMAHA Tech 3 Yamaha 8. Hector Barbera 1m 49.544 SPA DUCATI Paginas Amarillas Aspar 9. Loris Capirossi 1m 49.568 ITA SUZUKI Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 10. Marco Simoncelli 1m 49.581 ITA HONDA San Carlo Honda Gresini 11. Marco Melandri 1m 49.620 ITA HONDA San Carlo Honda Gresini 12. Alvaro Bautista1m 49.644 SPA SUZUKI Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 13. Nicky Hayden 1m 49.882 USA DUCATI Ducati Marlboro Team 14. Randy De Puniet 1m 49.957 FRA HONDA LCR Honda MotoGP 15. Aleix Espargaro 1m 50.158 SPA DUCATI Pramac Racing 16. Mika Kallio 1m 51.105 FIN DUCATI Pramac Racing 17. Dani Pedrosa 2m 00.131 SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
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