Rossi, Lorenzo Top First Catalunya Practice

Henny Ray Abrams | June 12, 2009

Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo finished one-two in the first practice session for Sunday’s Catalunya Grand Prix, the sixth round of the MotoGP World Championship.The pair dominated much of the hour, held under a baking Spanish sun at the 2.94-mile Montmelo circuit north of Barcelona. Rossi led early, Lorenzo was on top in the middle, and Rossi took over at the end. His final lap of 1:43.308 mins. was .302 secs. faster than Lorenzo’s best.The lap was slower than both the fastest lap and pole position from the 2008 race. Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner used a qualifying tire to record a lap of 1:41.186 in final qualifying last year.Stoner was unhurt when he crashed today when his front end washed out entering the Circuit de Catalunya corner, one of the few left-handers on the predominantly right-handed track. Catalunya marks the first race in which Bridgestone brought asymmetric dual compound tires, hard or extra hard on the center and right shoulder, soft on the left shoulder. Stoner finished the session just under .3 secs. behind Lorenzo to take the third spot.Andrea Dovizioso rode the first Honda to the fourth fastest time just. 050 sec. behind Stoner. Earlier in the day the Repsol Honda rider had predicted he would have trouble under braking, as he’d had in Mugello two weeks ago.Teammate Dani Pedrosa finished the session 14th in his hometown race. The Spaniard is still hampered by a right thigh injury suffered in a Saturday practice spill at Mugello. Pedrosa had at his disposal a new chassis which was built to alleviate some of the stability under braking problems, though it wasn’t known which one he used to set his best time.LCR Honda’s Randy De Puniet put in a late fast lap to move into fifth in the session, with Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden finishing an encouraging sixth. Hayden had said on Thursday that the team was trying a radical new bike set-up. It wasn’t clear whether he set the time on that bike or a more traditional set-up. Still, he would have to take some encouragement from being sixth in the session and just over a second off Rossi’s pace.Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi edged out Monster Energy Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards for eighth.Scot Honda’s Yuki Takahashi and Edwards’ teammate James Toseland filled out the top ten.Takahashi has been joined this weekend by Hungarian Gabor Talmacsi in his MotoGP debut. Talmacsi had begun the season racing for the Balatonring Team in the 250cc World Championship, but a dispute with the team ended with the parties parting ways after the Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez, three races ago. The team has scheduled a news conference for Saturday evening at which it’s expected Talmacsi will be named the team’s sole rider, with backing from a Hungarian fuel company.

Friday Practice:

1. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:43.038

2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:43.340

3. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 1:43.636

4. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:43.684

5. Randy De Puniet (Honda) 1:43.871

6. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:44.152

7. Loris Capirossi (Suzuki) 1:44.340

8. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:44.419

9. Yuki Takahashi (Honda) 1:44.484

10. James Toseland (Yamaha) 1:44.580

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.