MotoGP bikes returned to action for the first time since the tragic death of Marco Simoncelli on Friday morning at Valencia, and Casey Stoner led a Repsol Honda 1-2 at the end of first practice. The session took place in damp conditions following overnight rain but thankfully there was no repeat of the chaos that took place in the earlier 125cc session.
Fittingly, Loris Capirossi was the first man to take to the track when the pitlane opened. The Italian, racing in his 328th and final Grand Prix, is sporting the no.58 plate this weekend in tribute to his late friend and actually topped the timesheets with less than ten minutes to go.
Track conditions were constantly improving, meaning everybody stood a chance of finishing on top if they timed their final run to perfection. Capirossi had actually taken the fastest time from LCR Honda's Toni Elias but Nicky Hayden would move in front of him six minutes from time as Ducati showed a god turn of pace in the slippery conditions.
Hayden's 1:46.073 only stood up for a couple of minutes before Stoner rose to the top of the leaderboard for the first time. Ducati weren't finished yet though and Valentino Rossi jumped up into second shortly afterwards, only to be pipped in the dying seconds by Dani Pedrosa.
Nicky Hayden hung onto fourth, ensuring Ducati finished as the closest challengers to Repsol Honda while Capirossi's earlier time kept him up in fifth. Ben Spies completed the top six on the leading factory Yamaha ahead of Randy de Puniet and the impressive Elias who spent as much time as anyone at the top of the timesheets this morning.
Andrea Dovizioso was a slightly subdued ninth, just in front of future colleague Cal Crutchlow with the Briton leading the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 challenge this weekend. His rookie teammate Josh Hayes did well on his first taste of MotoGP action though, finishing 15th ahead of Yamaha tester Katsuyuki Nakasuga.
Following the tragic events of Sepang two weeks ago, San Carlo Honda Gresini will have just one rider out on track this weekend in the form of Hiroshi Aoyama. The Japanese rider is riding in his final GP before moving to World Superbikes and was 14th fastest on Friday morning.
Gran Premio Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana: First Practice Result
|1||Casey Stoner||AUS||Honda||Repsol Honda Team||1:45.513|
|2||Dani Pedrosa||SPA||Honda||Repsol Honda Team||+0.223|
|3||Valentino Rossi||ITA||Ducati||Ducati Team||+0.315|
|4||Nicky Hayden||USA||Ducati||Ducati Team||+0.560|
|5||Loris Capirossi||ITA||Ducati||Pramac Racing Team||+0.595|
|6||Ben Spies||USA||Yamaha||Yamaha Factory Racing||+0.746|
|7||Randy de Puniet||FRA||Ducati||Pramac Racing Team||+0.858|
|8||Toni Elias||SPA||Honda||LCR Honda MotoGP||+0.880|
|9||Andrea Dovizioso||ITA||Honda||Repsol Honda Team||+0.889|
|10||Cal Crutchlow||GBR||Yamaha||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||+1.068|
|11||Alvaro Bautista||SPA||Suzuki||Rizla Suzuki MotoGP||+1.409|
|12||Hector Barbera||SPA||Ducati||Mapfre Aspar Team MotoGP||+1.454|
|13||Karel Abraham||CZE||Ducati||Cardion AB Motoracing||+1.566|
|14||Hiroshi Aoyama||JAP||Honda||San Carlo Honda Gresini||+2.068|
|15||Josh Hayes||USA||Yamaha||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||+2.524|
|16||Katsuyuki Nakasuga||JAP||Yamaha||Yamaha Factory Racing||+2.869|