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McCoy makes the running, albeit at a slow pace

McCoy makes the running, albeit at a slow pace

The 500s took to the track for the first time in Motegi for their first free practice, and it was Garry McCoy who eventually ended the session as quickest, with a last lap burst, which saw him displace home rider Norick Abe from top spot. The riders had to battle against troublesome conditions as the rain continued to fall, wearing extra clothing to counter the effects and riding at a much slower pace than would be expected.

McCoy had been around the top riders for the majority of the session, but early on it had been more a case of the Suzuki riders setting the pace. World Champion Kenny Roberts spent much of the hour at the top of the timesheets, swapping first place every other lap with his wildcard colleague Yukio Kagayama, who is very familiar with this track. Later the challenge came from the Yamaha riders, as Abe and later McCoy began to threaten the American´s time. Both Abe and McCoy set their fastest laps on their final circuit, but McCoy´s 2´04.374 pipped Abe into first by 0.048 seconds. Roberts was third behind these two.

Championship leader Valentino Rossi came in fourth behind Roberts, ahead of the Japanese duo Nori Haga and Kagayama. His main rival in the Championship Max Biaggi could only make it into 12th spot however, obviously not finding the rain to his liking this morning. Barros, who had led for a short period mid session took seventh, but he will be one to look out for if the rain doesn´t stop by this afternoon, having won and come second in the two wet races of the season.

500cc, 2001

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