Gibernau leads Friday in Spain

2005 brings several new rule changes to MotoGP. The most important today is that in 2005, qualifying will only happen on Saturday. In the past, MotoGP riders would be given two free-practice sessions Friday and Saturday morning and...

2005 brings several new rule changes to MotoGP. The most important today is that in 2005, qualifying will only happen on Saturday.

In the past, MotoGP riders would be given two free-practice sessions Friday and Saturday morning and two qualifying sessions Friday and Saturday afternoon. One of the problems with this formula was that if a rider set a blistering lap on Friday, one which would not likely be broken the following day, he would sit out the final minutes of qualifying. Dorna felt the fans that came to watch qualifying on Saturday suffered because they did not get to see a true battle for qualifying.

The solution was to make Friday qualifying a free-practice session and make Saturday the all-out war for grid position.

With the above in mind, let us look at the top-five riders during today's free-practice sessions.

Although the order of the top-five shuffled between free-practice one and two, Sete Gibernau led both sessions. The Spaniard's fastest laps were both in the high 1:40s, with his race pace being in the 1:41s. Between both sessions, Gibernau managed 18 laps in that range.

Second fastest went to Valentino Rossi on the first session, while he was bumped to fifth on the second. The Italian managed 14 laps in 1:41s, four less than pace-setter Gibernau.

American, Nicky Hayden, who became the first-ever rider to dip below the 1:40-minute mark two weeks ago, upheld HRC's honor and completed 11 race-pace laps.

Hayden's compatriot, John Hopkins, continued on his impressive run by finishing both free-practice sessions among the top five. However, Hopkins's race-pace seems to be in the 1:42 range as he only completed 2 laps in the 1:41s.

The final top-five rider was Colin Edwards or Marco Melandri, depending on which session you are interested. Edwards finished the first session fifth-fastest, while Melandri completed the second session fourth-fastest. Between both sessions, Edwards totaled 10 race-pace laps, while Melandri only managed six.

The weather Gods seem to have smiled upon the opening round and all forecasts indicate sunshine for Sunday. With 200,000 Spaniards expected at Jerez, fireworks will not be the only things to "spark" on Sunday.

Stay tuned for more.

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Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Valentino Rossi , Colin Edwards , Sete Gibernau , John Hopkins , Marco Melandri