The first MotoGP free practice session of the Catalunya weekend saw the World Champion lap three tenths of a second faster than his premier class rivals.
Valentino Rossi in aciton in Montmeló
Valentino Rossi stamped his authority on the opening MotoGP practice of the weekend with the fastest time of Friday afternoon at the Gran Premi Cinzano de Catalunya, lapping the Barcelona track on his Fiat Yamaha M1 in 1’43.038.
The Italian star has never finished outside the top three in a premier class race at the Mediterranean venue and he signaled his aspirations for victory at round six, having not won since the third race of the year at Jerez, by starting the weekend on the front foot.
Valentino Rossi´s helmet for Mugello
Behind Rossi on the time-sheet was his factory Yamaha colleague Jorge Lorenzo who was 0.302s off the World Champion’s pace on a far better Friday than last year at his home track – where he crashed in practice and missed the race due to concussion.
Third on the timesheet was Mugello race-winner and 2007 Barcelona victor Casey Stoner who went round just over half a second slower than Rossi on his Ducati Desmosedici, despite a small crash near the end of the session.
Fourth on the timesheet, just as he has been in the last two MotoGP races, Andrea Dovizioso put in a similar time to Stoner. Dovizioso’s injured Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa was down in 14th place as he tested the condition of his injured hip.
At one of his favourite tracks Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) was fifth fastest, whilst a big improvement by Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden saw him finish sixth quickest in one of his best sessions of the season so far – around a second off the pace.
Veteran riders Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki) and Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) were seventh and eighth respectively. Yuki Takahashi was number nine on the timesheet, trying to push hard after seeing new MotoGP recruit Gabor Talmacsi join the Scot Racing Team on Friday.
Talmacsi was unsurprisingly the slowest participant in his first 800cc session, four seconds behind Rossi, whilst satellite Yamaha rider James Toseland completed the top ten.