PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANDREA WILSON
MONTEREY, CA, JULY 18 – Death, taxes and foggy mornings in Monterey – three things you can count on. With the normal fog nestled over the Monterey Peninsula this morning the MotoGP bikes took to the track for the first time and the result was lap times well off what they’ll end up being when the conditions improve for the afternoon session.
The fastest man this morning was Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow, the Brit lapping at 1:22.757 with a minute and a half left in the session. For comparison’s sake, Jorge Lorenzo earned pole position for last year’s Grand Prix with a 1:20.554.
Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi, who led most of the session, ended up second, just .091 of a second behind Crutchlow. Then came Laguna Seca first timer Marc Marquez, the championship leader continuing to amaze as he ended up just .223 of a second off Crutchlow’s best after 23 laps of the circuit. As you’d expect, Marquez did the second most laps – 23 – with Bradley Smith the only rider to do more with 24 laps. Smith is also making his debut here, though the Brit did spend two days here early in the season riding a Yamaha R1 during a Yamaha Champions School.
Stefan Bradl was fourth quickest this morning, the German rumored to be in a fight to keep his LCR Honda ride for next year. Alvaro Bautista ended up fifth on the Go & Fun Honda with Marlboro Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso sixth.
Aleix Espargaro, Nicky Hayden, Smith and Randy de Puniet rounded out the top 10.
And what of the walking wounded? Jorge Lorenzo waited until there were 23 minutes left in the session to take to the track for the first time with his latest collarbone injury. The defending World Champion did eight laps in total and ended up a cautious 11th.
Dani Pedrosa, meanwhile, kept his Repsol Honda in the garage and didn’t go at all as he waits for warmer temperatures to give his injured shoulder it’s first test since he suffered a crash on Saturday at the Sachsenring, a crash that kept him out of the German Grand Prix.
The MotoGP bikes will be back out on the Laguna track at 2:05 p.m.
Free Practice 1
1. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1:22.757
2. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:22.848
3. Marc Marquez (Honda) 1:22.980
4. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 1:23.033
5. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1:23.255
6. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 1:23.380
7. Aleix Espargaro (ART) 1:23.905
8. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:23.927
9. Bradley Smith (Yamaha) 1:24.287
10. Randy de Puniet (ART) 1:24.363