Dani Pedrosa showed that Repsol Honda's updates seem to be having the desired effect by topping both Friday Practice sessions ahead of the U.S. Grand Prix at Laguna Seca. The Spaniard was challenged by Jorge Lorenzo throughout the day while plenty of action occurred elsewhere on the circuit.
Pedrosa led an uneventful morning session on a 1:21.424 but Lorenzo was quickest out of the blocks in second practice, although he was still slower than Dani had gone in the morning. With ten minutes gone, the championship leader had all-but-matched the morning benchmark but just as he did so, Pedrosa raised the bar still further, improving to a 1:21.088 which is quicker than the current circuit record.
Shortly after Pedrosa's scorcher, the drama kicked off as Alvaro Bautista slid off the track at turn three after suffering a front-end washout on his Gresini Honda. He wouldn't be the only one though as Valentino Rossi produced a carbon copy on his Ducati ten minutes later with his GP12 puncturing the air fence.
The red flags were brought out while the barriers were replaced and Pedrosa was unchallenged in the final ten minutes, keeping his three-tenth advantage over Lorenzo. Casey Stoner had a close encounter with debutant Steve Rapp on his CRT machine in the dying seconds and had to limp through the turn four gravel trap in avoidance. The reigning champion was third fastest ahead of Ben Spies and Andrea Dovizioso.
Cal Crutchlow was sixth on the second Tech 3 Yamaha but the Briton had an uncomfortable moment when he slid off at the high-speed turn ten, burning a hole in his leathers as he skidded through the gravel trap. Thankfully he was unhurt but he was unable to improve on a 1:22.258, a quarter of a second down on his teammate.
Nicky Hayden, fresh from signing a one-year extension with Ducati, was seventh ahead of Stefan Bradl and the turn three victims, Rossi and Bautista. The Aspar ARTs led the CRT pack with Aleix Espargaro pipping Randy de Puniet by 0.035s while James Ellison was nineteenth, seventh of the CRTs.