INDIANAPOLIS, IN, SEPT. 12 – Kawasaki’s Anthony West led early and led again at the end in a very wet opening practice session for the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
With a session that started wet and stayed wet, times dropped steadily as the MotoGP men familiarlized themselves with the new circuit and it was rain-master West who started at the top, leading the time sheets for the first 45 minutes of the 90-minute session.
When he lost the top spot it was to Rizla Suzuki’s Ben Spies, the Texan the only rider in the field with Indy track experience after testing here earlier in the year. Spies would ultimately fall to ninth, but would flirt with the top spot on and off until dropping down the charts right at th end.
West’s best lap came on his 28th of 31 laps and it was a 1:53.034, three seconds quicker than his early fast laps. Second ultimately went to San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Alex de Angelis, the Italian never a factor until the very end. De Angelis lapped at 1:53.151 – .117 of a second behind West.
Casey Stoner rode the Marlboro Ducati to the third quickest time, the Australian highsiding the Ducat at the very end of the session but walking away unhurt. Stoner lapped at 1:53.190 and was one of a few riders to take a turn at the very top.
JIR Team Scot Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso was another who moved up the time sheets right at the end, the Italian lapping at 1:53.704 to lead the first of the Americans, John Hopkins. This was Hopkins only home race of the year since he missed Laguna Seca with an injury.
Spies’ Rizla Suzuki teammate for the weekend, Chris Vermeulen, ended up sixth, just ahead of Fiat Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo. Then came Nicky Hayden, the Repsol Honda man mirred near the bottom for most of the sesion, but making a push at the end to be the last man to circulate in the 1:53s. He ended the session .897 of a second off West’s best.
Spies was ninth with Alice Ducati’s Toni Elias rounding out the top 10.
World Championship leader Valentino Rossi completed the first session in 11th place after being one of a handful of riders to at one point lead the session.
1. Anthony West (Kawasaki) 1:53.034
2. Alex de Angelis (Honda) 1:53.151
3. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 1:53.190
4. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:53.704
5. John Hopkins (Kawasaki) 1:53.715
6. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) 1:53.771
7. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:53.850
8. Nicky Hayden (Honda) 1:53.931
9. Ben Spies (Suzuki) 1:54.297
10. Toni Elias (Ducati) 1:54.616
11. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:54.795
12. Randy de Puniet (Honda) 1:55.072
13. Shinya Nakano (Honda) 1:55.074
14. Marco Melandri (Ducati) 1:55.292
15. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:55.731
16. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) 1:56.125
17. James Toseland (Yamaha) 1:56.271
18. Loris Capirossi (Suzuki) 1:56.345
19. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:56.851