Alvaro Bautista gave the Rizla Suzuki team something to cheer by setting the fastest time on Friday afternoon at Valencia. Conditions were atrocious with rain falling for much of the session but the Spaniard coped better than anyone else, leading a trio of Ducatis.
The miserable weather conditions presented an opportunity for a number of unfamiliar names to spend time at the top of the timesheets and Bautista hit the front ten minutes in, only to be overtaken by Cal Crutchlow's 1:52.504.
The Briton was usurped by Bautista who pulled out a one-second advantage on his next attempt but Nicky Hayden found even more time to go fastest on a 1:50.175, with teammate Valentino Rossi slotting in behind in second.
The two factory Desmosedicis were soon overtaken by the satellite Ducati of Karel Abraham before Randy de Puniet took over on the Pramac machine. The Frenchman reeled off a series of personal best laps, culminating in a 1:48.684 but Bautista re-emerged to reclaim top spot in the final five minutes, with his 1:47.975 proving good enough to fend off a late challenge from Hayden.
De Puniet held on to third, partly thanks to a heavy crash for Abraham which eliminated any hopes he had of improving. The Czech rookie lost control as he hit the brakes for turn one and although he escaped unhurt, the GP11 suffered significant damage as it tumbled through the gravel trap.
Behind him came his rookie of the year rival Cal Crutchlow who fought off an impressive display from his new teammate Josh Hayes. Crutchlow was fifth fastest with the AMA champion a sensational tenth.
Andrea Dovizioso was the quickest Honda rider in sixth ahead of Valentino Rossi while the morning pacesetters Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa dropped from first and second to eighth and ninth.
Katsuyuki Nakasuga led the way for Yamaha Factory Racing in 11th but the team were left to count the cost of another crash for Ben Spies. Like Abraham, the American saw the front end of his bike fold up under braking for turn one and although he walked away unaided, the crash will have done his injured ribs no good at all. Hiroshi Aoyama also had a fall on the sole Gresini Honda and although he was uninjured, he finished the session down in 15th.
Gran Premio Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana: First Practice Result
|1||Alvaro Bautista||SPA||Suzuki||Rizla Suzuki MotoGP||1:47.975|
|2||Nicky Hayden||USA||Ducati||Ducati Team||+0.341|
|3||Randy de Puniet||FRA||Ducati||Pramac Racing Team||+0.709|
|4||Karel Abraham||CZE||Ducati||Cardion AB Motoracing||+1.046|
|5||Cal Crutchlow||GBR||Yamaha||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||+1.375|
|6||Andrea Dovizioso||ITA||Honda||Repsol Honda Team||+1.447|
|7||Valentino Rossi||ITA||Ducati||Ducati Team||+1.638|
|8||Casey Stoner||AUS||Honda||Repsol Honda Team||+1.699|
|9||Dani Pedrosa||SPA||Honda||Repsol Honda Team||+1.845|
|10||Josh Hayes||USA||Yamaha||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||+2.534|
|11||Katsuyuki Nakasuga||JAP||Yamaha||Yamaha Factory Racing||+3.302|
|12||Loris Capirossi||ITA||Ducati||Pramac Racing Team||+3.863|
|13||Hector Barbera||SPA||Ducati||Mapfre Aspar Team MotoGP||+3.957|
|14||Ben Spies||USA||Yamaha||Yamaha Factory Racing||+4.097|
|15||Hiroshi Aoyama||JAP||Honda||San Carlo Honda Gresini||+5.311|
|16||Toni Elias||SPA||Honda||LCR Honda MotoGP||+6.367|