Dani Pedrosa continued his momentum from the Red Bull Indy Grand Prix today in the first day of action at the Brno Circuit, the Repsol Honda rider leading both sessions in the Czech Republic.
Pedrosa led the morning session, despite being struck in the leg by a rock kicked up by Valentino Rossi’s Ducati, and he led a crash-filled and red flag interrupted second session to end the day at the top of the time sheets.
Pedrosa lapped at 1:56.858 in the afternoon session to best Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo by just .053 of a second. Lorenzo was one of several crashers in the session that was red flagged at the 26-minute mark when Yonny Hernandez’ crashed Avintia Blusens CRT bike punctured a section of air fence.
Lorenzo was on top when the session was stopped, but shortly thereafter he crashed his M1. With the Spaniard returning to the pits to get his second bike, Pedrosa shot to the top and Lorenzo couldn’t counter.
Pedrosa qualified on pole for last year’s Czech Republic Grand Prix but crashed out of the race on lap three after taking the lead. He trails Lorenzo by 18 points in the World Championship heading into Sunday’s race.
“Today we spent time working on the tires and set up of the bike,” Pedrosa said in a team release. “We were trying to get the maximum time on the track as tomorrow we don’t know how the weather will be so it was important to have a lot of time in the dry. The feelings were improving, but we still have some work to do especially with electronics and suspension. I was pretty lucky with the incident this morning as it could have been a lot worse. There were two massive rocks that flew up, one hit my left foot hard and the other one hit my screen and chin. At the beginning I thought I had broken something in my foot but fortunately it’s okay, just a lot of swelling. Anyway the pain is going down from this morning so that’s a good thing.”
Though he wasn’t fastest, Lorenzo was happy with the improvement and ahead of where he was at Indy last week.
“Today was much better than Indianapolis, we tried to improve the bike but we still need to find some solutions for more grip in the corners,” Lorenzo said. “I had a small crash in a slow corner; I tried to lean a little more and found the limit of the grip. I’m quite satisfied overall, we are there with Dani fighting for the best lap time every practice which is good.”
Third fastest today was Monster Energy Tech 3 Yamaha’s Andrea Dovizioso, the Italian continuing his strong form just a week after signing to race the factory Ducati in next year’s championship. Dovizioso was .197 of a second off Pedrosa’s best lap.
Then came Cal Crutchlow – just .16 of a second behind his teammate Dovizioso and .035 of a second ahead of German Stefan Bradl on the LCR Honda.
Rossi put the lone factory Ducati within a half a second of Pedrosa, the Italian legend just .457 of a second off and in sixth place at the end of the day.
Gresini Honda’s Alvaro Bautista and Yamaha’s Ben Spies both crashed during the session, the pair ending up seventh and eighth, respectively. Top CRT rider Aleix Espargaro ended up ninth with fill-in rider Toni Elias 10th on the Pramac Ducati.
NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards ended the day 16th out of the weakened 19-rider field.
1. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:56.858
2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:56.911
3. Andrea Dovizioso (Yamaha) 1:57.215
4. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1:57.215
5. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 1:57.250
6. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1:57.315
7. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1:57.573
8. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1:57.790
9. Aleix Espargaro (ART) 1:59.185
10. Toni Elias (Ducati) 1:59.228