Rossi Strikes First

Henny Ray Abrams | October 15, 2009

Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi won the first battle of Phillip Island with teammate and championship rival Jorge Lorenzo by setting the fastest time on a blustery and intermittently sunny afternoon at the picturesque circuit south of Melbourne.Rossi, who came to Australia holding an 18-point lead with three races to go, took top honors in Friday’s lone session, while Lorenzo ended up sixth and finished in the garage after crashing with just under six minutes to go.The World Champion was in control almost from the start, setting his fast time of 1:31.032 on his 10th lap and never bettering it. He completed 31 laps of the track that is situated on the cliffs above the Bass Strait.Lorenzo, meanwhile, washed out the front end in the slow turn-four hairpin – Honda Corner. He was unhurt, but the bike was reluctant to restart and he eventually made his way back to the pits. He finished sixth fastest.Riding in his home Grand Prix, and on his 24th birthday, Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner set the second fastest time. Stoner slotted in behind Rossi with his ninth of 22 laps, then lowered his time with his final two laps. He finished .135 of a second slower than Rossi with a best of 1:31.167. Stoner’s 2008 pole time, done on a qualifying tire, is 1:28.665.Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, locked in a battle for third in the championship with Stoner, finished with the third fastest time.  Pedrosa arrived in Australia with a slim three-point cushion on the Australian. Pedrosa’s best time came on the 16th of his 28 laps.San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Alex De Angelis was a surprise fourth, .258 of a second behind Pedrosa and only .060 up on Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards. Edwards jumped up to fifth by drafting teammate James Toseland with just over a minute to go. Toseland crashed during the session and finished seventh.Behind Toseland came Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso, who appeared to be having trouble with rear tire grip, and Pramac Racing Ducati’s Mika Kallio. Kallio and teammate Niccolo Canepa both crashed. Canepa’s far more spectacular crash sent him to the medical center. Kallio rejoined practice after his spill.The 10th fastest rider was Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi, with Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden moving up to 11th at the very end of the session. It was a disappointing result for Hayden, who was 1.6 seconds slower than Stoner on a track he considers the track one of his favorites. Hayden finished third here last year.


1. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:31.032

2. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 1:31.167

3. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:31.528

4. Alex De Angelis (Honda) 1:31.786

5. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:31.846

6. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:32.077

7. James Toseland (Yamaha) 1:32.255

8. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:32.502

9. Mika Kallio (Ducati) 1:32.572

10. Loris Capirossi (Suzuki) 1:32.606

11. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:32.771

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.