Jorge Lorenzo set the early pace today during the afternoon’s free practice session at the Catalunya Circuit in Montmelo, Spain, the Yamaha M-1-mounted Spaniard lapping under the lap record after switching to soft-compound tires late in the session.
Lorenzo, who currently leads Casey Stoner by eight points in the World Championship heading into Sunday’s Catalunyan MotoGP, was fast early on but gave way to others as several men took at turn at the top spot on a sweltering hot day in Spain. But when the soft tires went on, Lorenzo ruled the roost, lapping the 2.937-mile circuit in 1:42.099 to best on-form countryman Alvaro Bautisa, the San Carlo Gresini Honda rider putting in his best effort of the season.
Brit Cal Crutchlow continued to impress, the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider ending up third – just .145 of a second ahead of his teammate Andrea Dovizioso.
Fifth place was somewhat of a surprise with Hector Barbera putting the Pramac Ducati ahead of factory Yamaha man Ben Spies by .163 of a second. Spies, who led the session at one point, put in a best of 1:42.802 to finish .703 of a second off his teammate Lorenzo’s best.
The first of the two Repsol Honda’s was ridden to the seventh best time by Dani Pedrosa with his teammate Casey Stoner down in 10th, the World Champion and his Spanish teammate opting to not use the softer compound Bridgestone tires that likely won’t be a factor come race time. Stoner ended up just a tick over a second slower than Lorenzo.
Between the two factory Hondas were LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl and Marlboro Ducati’s Nicky Hayden, with Hayden the last rider within a second of Lorenzo.
Although last week’s tests at Mugello gave the team new hope, Valentino Rossi was down in 12th at the end of the session – 1.4 seconds behind Lorenzo. The Italian, however, was another who didn’t make the switch to softer rubber at the end of the session.
Texan Colin Edwards, meanwhile, ended the day 16th in his return to racing. Edwards underwent surgery on his badly broken left collarbone on May 7, a few days after being taken out by Randy de Puniet during qualifying for the Portuguese Grand Prix.
1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:42.099
2. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1:42.306
3. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1:42.447
4. Andrea Dovizioso (Yamaha) 1:42.592
5. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 1:42.639
6. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1:42.802
7. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:42.870
8. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 1:42.943
9. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:43.057
10. Casey Stoner (Honda) 1:43.134
16. Colin Edwards (Suter) 1:45.868