Dovi Fast in France

Cycle News Staff | May 15, 2009

The first hour-long MotoGP practice session of the season was interrupted by rain just past the halfway mark, denying riders 15 extra minutes of track time on the famed Le Mans circuit, site of this weekend’s French Grand Prix.Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso ended the session with the fastest time of 1:36.136 mins. on the fourth lap of his second full run. Then came the rains, sending most riders to the pits. The rain relented late in the session, but those who went back out weren’t  to improve their times.Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner was second (1:36.194) on the third lap of his second run. Stoner only did four full laps in the session and didn’t return to the track once the rain began.Frenchman Randy De Puniet delighted his fellow countrymen by finishing only .008 sec. behind Stoner in third on the LCR Honda RC212V.Rizla Suzuki’s Chris Vermeulen was next, followed by Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa.”We want to try to get the most out of the tires in all conditions so we experimented a bit with chassis and suspension set-up, but unfortunately due to the weather we didn’t get the full hour to try everything,” Vermeulen, whose lone GP win came here in changeable conditions in 2007, said.In pursuit of the 99th premier class grand prix of his career, Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi began the weekend with the sixth fastest time at a gap of .615 secs. to Dovizioso. Rossi led a Yamaha sweep of the podium here last year.”We always seem to have bad luck with the weather here,” Rossi said. “The conditions weren’t easy today; it was quite cold and the track wasn’t so good, and then it rained and so we couldn’t use all of the session. It was still useful to get some laps done in the dry though, even if we couldn’t learn as much as we would have liked to today.”Rossi’s teammate Jorge Lorenzo, second last year, and Hayate Racing’s Marco Melandri (Kaw) tied for seventh with an identical time of 1:37.024 mins. Those two were the last riders on the lead second.”It’s a pity about the rain because we needed the time today, but this is the situation so we have to deal with it,” Lorenzo said. “I just hope it doesn’t continue.”At least we had some dry track time, but the situation of the track wasn’t so good and I was quite slow. We need time at each circuit to learn how our bike works with the Bridgestone tire and we didn’t really have enough time today, but we will keep trying tomorrow and hopefully we can improve our pace.”Ninth fastest Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki) was 1.088 secs. off the lead in ninth and .045 secs. in front of Monster Energy Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards, who filled out last year’s podium.Working with new crew chief Juan Martinez for the first time, Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden was 15th fastest, 1.896 secs. off the pace.Since the start of the season, much of the MotoGP field had complained that 45 minutes was enough time to set up their machinery and test tires. Series officials agreed and expanded the sessions to 60 minutes beginning in France. But today’s extra time would be spent mostly in the garage.Friday Practice:1. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:36.1362. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 1:36.1943. Randy De Puniet (Honda) 1:36.2934. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) 1:36.3015. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:36.4766. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:36.7517. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:37.0248. Marco Melandri (Kawasaki) 1:37.0249. Loris Capirossi (Suzuki) 1:37.22410. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:37.269Other:15. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:38.032