Raining at Donington Park

Henny Ray Abrams | June 21, 2008
DERBY, ENGLAND, JUNE 21: The weather at Donington Park turned typically British, with a cold, wet rain bringing out the worst in the slippery surface and bringing down a number of MotoGP riders. But most of the top riders stayed upright in a session that rewarded Honda riders on Michelin tires.

JiR Team Scot MotoGP’s Andrea Dovizioso (Hon) topped the time sheets for the first time in his rookie season. The Italian jumped to the top of the order after time had run out in Friday morning’s session, dropping Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa to second and Nicky Hayden to third.

Hayden had been briefly on top, but in a matter of seconds Pedrosa dropped him to second before Dovi’s quick lap. The trio was covered by .569 seconds.

For Hayden, it was an encouraging first wet outing on the new machine with the pneumatic valve engine. Yesterday, he was second fastest on his first full day of dry practice on the new chassis with the air valve engine.

Only .002 secs. behind Hayden came Kawasaki’s Anthony West, the struggling Australian allowed to showcase his wet weather skills by putting the first Bridgestone machine in fourth. West, whose Kawasaki ZXRR recorded the fastest top speed of the wet session, had been on top at the end before the Michelin/Honda riders put in their best runs.

Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner finished down in sixth after spending much of the session on top.

Seventh went to San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Alex de Angelis, who was among the crashers. Joining him on the ground were Tech 3 Yamaha’s James Toseland (15th), LCR Honda’s Randy de Puniet, twice (16th), San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Shinya Nakano (17th), and Rizla Suzuki’s Chris Vermeulen (11th).

Vermeulen’s teammate for the weekend, Ben Spies, not only stayed on two wheels but also put in a good show. Spies was up to third, behind Stoner and Hayden, with less than 14 minutes to run. He improved his time with a consistent three lap run on his final tire, ending up tenth fastest, just between Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi and Vermeulen.

Behind Vermeulen came Tech 3 Yamaha’s Colin Edwards and Kawasaki’s John Hopkins.

Saturday Morning Practice:

1. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:43.957

2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:43.995

3. Nicky Hayden (Honda) 1:44.526

4. Anthony West (Kawasaki) 1:44.528

5. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) 1:44.817

6. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 1:45.031

7. Alex de Angelis (Honda) 1:45.208

8. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:45.372

9. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:46.012

10. Ben Spies (Suzuki) 1:46.046

11. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) 1:46.188

12. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:46.281

13. John Hopkins (Kawasaki) 1:46.944

14. Toni Elias (Ducati) 1:47.865

15. James Toseland (Yamaha) 1:47.975

16. Randy de Puniet (Honda) 1:49.133

17. Shinya Nakano (Honda) 1:50.406

18. Marco Melandri (Ducati) 1:52.571

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.