Today’s free practice and last-chance qualifier are completed, and all that remains is the real racing. In free practice for the qualified teams, Ricky Carmichael once again set the fast time, knocking down a two-minute, 23.583-second lap, nearly a second faster than runner-up Sebastien Tortelli of France. As expected, the Americans and French are extremely close, with Frederic Bolley getting the 500cc-class nod over Ryan Hughes by a couple of seconds, and Stephane Roncada just barely edging out Travis Pastrana in the 125cc division.
World Champion Joel Smets also seems to have found his rhythm, posting the morning’s third-fastest time despite an injured elbow. Also impressive was South Africa’s Grant Langston, who was the fastest of the 125cc riders.
In the LCQ for the non-qualified teams, Great Britain made up for its misfortune of yesterday, with James Dobb grabbing the holeshot and leading until being passed by teammate Paul Cooper. Yet another gremlin struck Cooper, as his gas line came disconnected while he was running out front, but he got back underway in fifth and finished an eventual third. As for the team’s third rider, Carl Nunn struggled to 10th.
FREE PRACTICE TIMES: 1. Ricky Carmichael (Kaw) USA/250 2:23.583; 2. Sebastien Tortelli (Hon) France/250 2:24.517; 3. Joel Smets (KTM) Belgium/500 2:26.763; 4. Frederic Bolley (Hon) France/500 2:26.845; 5. Marnicq Bervoets (Yam) Belgium/250 2:28.477; 6. Claudio Federici (Yam) Italy/250 2:28.848; 7. Ryan Hughes (Hon) USA/500 2:29.448; 8. Andrea Bartolini (Yam) Italy/500 2:29.618; 9. Grant Langston (KTM) South Africa/125 2:29.892; 10. Ryuichiro Takahama (Hon) Japan/500; 11. Stephane Roncada (Yam) France/125 2:30.517; 12. Travis Pastrana (Suz) USA/125 2:30.522; 13. Darryl King (Hus) New Zealand/500 2:31.262; 14. Thomas Traversini (Hus) Italy/125 2:31.499; 15. Yoshitaka Atsuta (Hon) Japan/250 2:31.752; 16. Joshua Coppins (Suz) New Zealand/250 2:31.860; 17. Patrick Caps (KTM) Belgium/125 2:32.224; 18. Lauris Friebergs (Hon) Latvia/250 2:32.591; 19. Shayne King (KTM) New Zealand/500 2:33.680; 20. Mike Aaltonen (Hus) Finland/500 2:33.714.
LAST CHANCE QUALIFIER: 1. Great Britain – C. Nunn/10, P. Cooper/3, J. Dobb/1; 2. Portugal; 3.Croatia; 4. Slovenia; 5. Switzerland; 6. Brazil; 7. Estonia; 8. Norway; 9. Venezuela; 10. Hungary; 11. Canada; 12. Russia; 13. Lithuania.