Rossi Starts It Off At Laguna

Henny Ray Abrams | July 3, 2009

The first practice for the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix ended with the championship contenders finishing in order.Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi blitzed the 2.24-mile Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca road course with a lap of 1:21.981 after time had expired on a sunny Friday afternoon. Rossi had spent most of the session near the top, but the 32nd of his 32 laps vaulted him to the top over teammate Jorge Lorenzo, the Spaniard having set a best of 1:22.093.The time was also similar to the Friday first practice time of 1:21.915 turned in by Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner last year. Stoner finished the session third fastest at a gap of .077 of a second to Lorenzo.The trio arrived in Monterey with Rossi leading Lorenzo by five points and Stoner by nine after seven of 17 rounds of the MotoGP World Championship.Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa finished fourth, nearly half a second down on Stoner, while continuing to full recovery after suffering a right hip injury in Mugello over a month ago.San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Toni Elias was .045 of a second behind Pedrosa in fifth and just in front of Pedrosa’s teammate Andrea Dovizioso.Hayate Racing’s Marco Melandri (Kaw) finished seventh, Rizla Suzuki’s Chris Vermeulen eighth, and Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards ninth.Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden finished the session in 14th.

Friday Practice:

1. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:21.981

2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:22.093

3. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 1:22.170

4. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:22.637

5. Toni Elias (Honda) 1:22.682

6. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:22.880

7. Marco Melandri (Kawasaki) 1:23.140

8. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) 1:23.217

9. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:23.285

10. Alex De Angelis (Honda) 1:23.406

11. Randy De Puniet (Honda) 1:23.439

12. Loris Capirossi (Suzuki) 1:23.637

13. James Toseland (Yamaha) 1:23.690

14. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:23.747

15. Sete Gibernau (Ducati) 1:24.533

16. Gabor Talmacsi (Honda) 1:24.926

17. Niccolo Canepa (Ducati) 1:25.511

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.