By Gordon Hatch, MotoGP correspondent
- Stoner tops both practices
- Simonelli holds 2nd quick time
- Hondas have top 3 practice times
Repsol Honda top the timing sheets in Spain and once again Hondas lock out top three positions
Casey Stoner continued his rich vein of form at today’s Free Practice session for the Grand Premi Aperol de Catalunya with the Repsol Honda rider topping the timesheets ahead of San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Simoncelli who showed no signs of slowing down despite the recent backlash he has received due to his aggressive riding.
Carrying on his pace from this morning’s session Stoner set a fastest FP2 time of 1m 42.940s on a damp track – the 2007 Champion’s time was just over one second off Jorge Lorenzo’s pole position lap from last year. Stoner’s time was also faster than his best FP1 time (1m 43.918s).
Simoncelli was on the pace from the off and he took to the conditions with no apparent problems and before long he was right behind Stoner with his best time of 1m 43.468s. The Italian’s pace this weekend was unexpected by some after he received a stern telling off by Race Direction for an incident at the previous Le Mans round where he cut across Dani Pedrosa forcing the Spaniard to pull out of this weekend’s race after breaking his collarbone.
Flying the flag for Repsol Honda in third place was Andrea Dovizioso who chased Simoncelli’s time but the Italian’s best effort of 1m 43.603s wasn’t enough to claim a Repsol one-two but with Simoncelli on basically the same machinery as Stoner and Dovizioso, the factory Honda squad will be very happy with how the first day has gone.
Following the Honda trio was the first of the factory Yamahas in the form of 2010 Champion Jorge Lorenzo (1m 43.810s) who wasn’t able to make any more of the conditions at the Spanish track. Lorenzo tried a number of settings in preparation of what the weekend might throw up and following him into 5th place was his teammate Ben Spies but with a massive gap of over one second to the Spaniard (1m 44.859s).
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Marlboro) once again flies the flag for the Italian marque ending up in 6th position managing a best time of 1m 44.944s with the ‘Doctor’ focusing on set up rather than trying for a faster time. Rossi was followed into 7th place by Britain’s Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) with his time of 1m 45.136s with the rookie sitting in third position at one stage.
Simoncelli’s teammate Hiroshi Aoyama sits in 8th place with a solid time of 1m 45.666s and the San Carlo Honda Gresini rider finished the session over one second ahead of Ducati Marlboro rider Nicky Hayden who set a best time of 1m 45.715s in the tricky conditions. The final spot in the top ten was snatched by the ever-improving Alvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) with his best time of 1m 45.751s.
Toni Elias (LCR Honda MotoGP) found some more pace at the Spanish track after bagging 11th place and was the last rider under 1m 46 seconds with a best time of 1m 46.760s. Frenchman Randy de Puniet (Pramac Racing) managed 12th position with his time of 1m 46.126s. Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing) followed de Puniet into 13th on a best time of 1m 46.280s while Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki) ended up in 14th position (1m 46.366s).
The final positions on the timing sheets were filled by Hector Barbera and his Mapfre Aspar Ducati (15th) with his best time of 1m46.501s while an uncharacteristic crash by Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) left the American in 16th and last position after the incident prevented the Texan from improving any further on his early set time of (1m 52.512s).
Shortly after the end of this afternoon’s session it was confirmed by the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 squad that Edwards had actually broken his collarbone, this now means that the MotoGP grid will only have 15 riders after Edwards’ crash and the fact that Pedrosa is also out of the race.