Gordon Hatch, MotoGP correspondent
Repsol Honda rider shows no signs of slowing in his title challenge
Dani Pedrosa continued his impressive form that he has brought back with him after the summer break with the Spaniard leading the way in today’s free practice sessions in preparation for the bwin Grand Prix České republiky at the famous Brno circuit. With the absence of Pedrosa’s teammate Casey Stoner who has flown home to have surgery his badly damaged right ankle, the battle for the top spot was between Pedrosa and rival Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing).
We still have some work to do especially with electronics and suspension.
While Pedrosa continued to go improve his times in the hot afternoon conditions and setting a fastest time of 1m 56.858s, Lorenzo suffered a small crash halfway through the session and had to settle for a 1m 56.911s lap leaving his fellow countryman to top the timing sheets with Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso securing the third fastest time of 1m 57.055s with the Italian on a high after announcing that he is moving to the Ducati Team next year.
Finishing day one in 4th was Cal Crutchlow on his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 setting a best time of 1m 57.215s with the British rider still looking to impress in his search of a contract for the 2013 MotoGP championship after a deal, that looked to be nearly completed, with Ducati fell through. Crutchlow sits just ahead of Germany’s Stefan Bradl and the LCR Honda team and his best time of 1m 57.250s was just enough to stay ahead of Rossi on the timings with the seven time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi sitting in 6th with a best lap of 1m 57.315s – less than .500s off Pedrosa.
Seventh place on the timing sheets went to Alvaro Bautista, who crashed in the afternoon but the San Carlo Honda Gresini team set lap of 1m 57.573s that was good enough to finish the day ahead of Ben Spies and the second of the Yamaha Factory Racing machines with a best time of 1m 57.790s. Spies also had a small crash in the afternoon but was able to re-join the session. Rounding out the top ten places was CRT rider Aleix Espargaro and the Power Electronics Aspar team with a best time of 1m 59.185s while Toni Elias, deputizing for the still injured Hector Barbera on the Pramac Racing Ducati, finished in 10th with a lap of 1m 59.228s.
Karel Abraham, back on track since last week’s Indianapolis Grand Prix, ended his first day in 11th for the Cardion AB Motoracing team setting a best time of 1m 59.251s with Power Electronics Aspar rider Randy de Puniet (1m 59.498s) in 12th place ahead of San Carlo Honda Gresini CRT rider Michele Pirro in 13th and his laptime of 1m 59.833s was enough to finish in front of Yonny Hernandez and the Avintia Blusens team in 14th (1m 59.886s) while Mattia Pasini ended the day in 15th place on a best time of 2m 00.258s. NGM Forward Racing rider Colin Edwards sits in 16th on his best lap of 2m 00.296s ahead of Ivan Silva (Avintia Blusens) setting a best lap time of 2m 00.773 with James Ellison following closely behind with his best lap of 2m 01.137s for the Paul Bird Motorsport team and Danilo Petrucci in 19th for the Came Ioda Racing team on a best lap of 2m 01.625s.
Pedrosa was lucky not to have injured himself this morning after small rocks were thrown up by Rossi’s bike at the final turn and hit the Spaniard on the helmet and left foot. “Today we spent time working on the tyres and set up of the bike,” said Pedrosa while adding, “We were trying to get the maximum time on the track as tomorrow we don't know how the weather will be so it was important to have a lot of time in the dry. The feelings were improving but we still have some work to do especially with electronics and suspension. I was pretty lucky with the incident this morning as it could have been a lot worse.
There were two massive rocks that flew up, one hit my left foot hard and the other one hit my screen and chin. At the beginning I thought I had broken something in my foot but fortunately it's ok, just a lot of swelling, anyway the pain is going down from this morning so that's a good thing,” he added.
Lorenzo was happy to return to Europe after a tough two races at Laguna Seca and then at Indianapolis last week. Speaking at the post session media conference he said, “Today was much better than Indianapolis, we tried to improve the bike but we still need to find some solutions for more grip in the corners. I had a small crash in a slow corner, I tried to lean a little more and found the limit of the grip. I’m quite satisfied overall, we are there with Dani fighting for the best lap time every practice which is good.”
Dovizioso was content with his first day of practice stating, “I am really satisfied with the work we have done today. Obviously we arrive here in great shape after the fantastic podium in Indianapolis and immediately I was comfortable with the bike and the big positive is in both sessions I was very close to the front. I was only 0.186s behind Dani this morning and 0.197s behind him this afternoon and it is great to start the weekend being so competitive. In every race I have been on the podium this season I have not started this strongly, so hopefully this is a good indication that we will be very strong in the race on Sunday.
The good thing about today is we can start to work immediately on improving the set-up of the bike because unlike in Indianapolis, the Brno track isn't dirty and there was a lot of grip. I'd like it to be a little easier to make the lap time because it feels I am quite close to the limit on the front. But we have a plan for tomorrow that should help us in that area,” Dovizioso added.