Gordon Hatch, MotoGP Correspondent
Reigning MotoGP Champion pulls it out of the bag to finish ahead of rivals
Reigning MotoGP Champion Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing) ended on top of this afternoon’s second Free Practice session at round 13 of this year’s championship at GP Aperol di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini at the Misano Circuit in front of his main rival and current championship leader Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda).
Lorenzo picked up the pace from this morning’s first free practice session where seemed to be languishing somewhat finishing 6th but the Spaniard put in a blistering performance this afternoon to turn the tables on the factory Honda’s of Stoner and Dani Pedrosa along with san Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Simoncelli who in turn finished ahead of Lorenzo’s teammate Ben Spies with the American being followed closely by the third of the Repsol Honda riders, Andrea Dovizioso.
Lorenzo’s time of 1m 33.929s was the only time under 1m 34s with Stoner very close on a 1m 34.005s lap that was a full two tenths ahead of teammate Pedrosa (1m 34.205s) who himself was over two tenths quicker than Simoncelli (1m 34.444s) with Spies (1m 34.469s) and Dovizioso (1m 34.989s) the last two riders inside the 1m 35s bracket.
Rizla Suzuki and sole rider Alvaro Bautista continue their strides in improvements and despite a problem with the Spaniard’s number one bike early on in the 45-minute session that saw smoke coming from his bike, Bautista got back on his second machine and finished in 7th position with a time of 1m 35.023s, an achievement that is sure to boost his confidence to no end ahead of tomorrow’s qualifying session.
Fellow Spaniard Hector Barbera (Mapfre Aspar) finished his first day at the Misano circuit as the top Ducati Rider in 8th position with a time of 1m 35.111s while the factory Marlboro Ducati riders Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden continue to encounter problem after problem with their bikes with seven-time MotoGP champion Rossi finishing in 11th with a time of 1m 35.331s while Hayden faired even worse in 13th (1m 35.419s).
Rounding out the top ten was San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Hiroshi Aoyama who ended up in 9th place with a time of 1m 35.282s and the final top ten spot was taken by Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) with a time of 1m 35.301s. Edwards is determined to make a strong finish to his tenure as a Yamaha rider after it was announced this week that the American will leave his current satellite Yamaha squad at the end of the year.
Pramac Racing’s Randy de Puniet managed a best time of 1m 35.418s finishing just behind Rossi and ahead of Hayden. Finishing in 14th place was another Ducati in the colours of Cardion AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham with his best of 1m 35.423s to end up ahead of Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) who set a best time of 1m 35.622s.
Finishing in 16th place today in his final year of MotoGP Racing after an illustrious World Championship career that has spanned an incredible 22 seasons was veteran MotoGP rider Loris Capirossi who announced this week that is to retire at the end of this season. ‘Capirex’ posted his best time of 1m 35.826s on front of his beloved Italian fans and is hopeful of a strong performance that will be his final ever MotoGP race on Italian soil on Sunday. Capirossi finished ahead of last place man Toni Elias on board his LCR Honda who couldn’t break into the 1m 35s laps and had to settle for his best of 1m 36.196s.