Pedrosa Fast in Brno MotoGP

Cycle News Staff | August 11, 2011

Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa returned from the summer break to set the fastest time in Friday’s combined MotoGP practice sessions at the Brno Circuit in the Czech Republic.Pedrosa spent the downtime strengthening the right collarbone and shoulder that had been compromised since he was knocked down at the French Grand Prix in Le Mans. The Spaniard was third at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix prior to the summer break, admitting afterwards that the physically taxing Monterey circuit had forced him to slow down and allow teammate Casey Stoner past. Now Pedrosa is as healthy as he’s been since prior to the crash and it showed.Pedrosa set the fast lap time in both sessions, though his morning session time was the faster of the two. The lap of 1:56.328 was better than Jorge Lorenzo’s Circuit Record Lap (race lap)  from 2009, but slightly slower than Valentino Rossi’s pole time (1:56.145) from the same year. Still, it was the fastest of the day by more than half a second. In the afternoon, Pedrosa lapped slightly slower, at 1:56.454.

“The feeling was very good today from the beginning,” Pedrosa said in a team release. “The bike was working well from the first round and we could move ahead, improving little by little in both practice sessions. I think the main difference I felt is that I’m fresh after the summer break, the rest I had has helped me a lot, I can feel the energy I didn’t have in the races before the break, so I hope I can keep the pace for Saturday and Sunday and be strong for the race. I’m very happy with the job we did in both sessions and I think we can still improve and be ready for both the qualifying practice and the race. I guess the other rivals will also do the same, so we have to keep focused. Today I rode alone all the time, maybe tomorrow I can compare a little with other riders to see where are they stronger or weaker than me”.As they’ve done all season, Hondas continued to dominate. Repsol Honda’s World Championship leader Casey Stoner was second at 1:56.831. His best time came from the second session, as did every rider’s but Pedrosa.Third fastest was San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Marco Simoncelli, the inconsistent Italian who continues to look for his first MotoGP podium.Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo broke up the Honda parade by setting the fourth fastest time that was only .038 of a second slower than Simoncelli’s. Then came the the third Repsol Honda of Andrea Dovizioso, followed by Yamaha’s second rider, Ben Spies (1:57.631).Valentino Rossi languished down the order for much of the afternoon session before moving up late in the hour. He finished seventh overall, but 1.4 seconds off Stoner’s pace. Teammate Nicky Hayden was even farther down. The Kentuckian was 14th and 2.2 seconds slower than Stoner. Hayden was also the last of the four Americans.In his wild card on the Rizla Suzuki, John Hopkins set the tenth fastest time in his second MotoGP appearance of a very busy year. The Californian is racing for the third weekend in a row and in three different championships. Two weeks ago he raced his Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki GSX-R1000 in the Silverstone round of the World Superbike Championship. Last weekend he scored two podiums in the Brands Hatch round of the British Superbike Championship, where he sits second in the championship, and this week he’s back in MotoGP, where he last raced regularly for Kawasaki in 2008. Hopkins finished 10th in his earlier MotoGP appearance at the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez where he rode in place of the then-injured Alvaro Bautista. Bautista was eighth fastest today ahead of Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow.Crutchlow’s teammate Colin Edwards finished the day with the 12th fastest time, two behind Hopkins and two ahead of Hayden.Friday Combined MotoGP Practice: 1. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:56.328

2. Casey Stoner (Honda) 1:56.831

3. Marco Simoncelli (Honda) 1:57.136

4. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:57.174

5. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:57.535

6. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1:57.631

7. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1:57.745

8. Alvaro Bautista (Suzuki) 1:57.857

9. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1:57.859

10. John Hopkins (Suzuki) 1:57.880

12. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:58.313

14. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:58.568