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Rain clouds overshadow first day at Donington Park

Rain clouds overshadow first day at Donington Park

Rain clouds overshadow first day at Donington Park

The opening day of the British Grand Prix was interrupted by rain today as the clouds hovering above the Donington Park circuit eventually gave way to light showers during this afternoon's second free practice session. Whilst Alex Barros was leading the time sheets at that point, the fastest time of the day went to Colin Edwards, who had been the only rider to dip beneath his own lap record in the morning's first practice. Flying high on the confidence of consecutive podiums in the last two races, Edwards is now targeting his first ever MotoGP victory in front of a supportive British crowd.

"I finished third at Assen and second at Laguna Seca so I'm guessing it must be time for a first!" smiled the American. "I like Donington, I always get along with it and it's been one of my favourite tracks for a long time. I've spent a lot of time working in England in the past so I'm getting an extra push from the fans. The bike has gotten better and better over the past few weeks so the aim today was to continue along that line. I felt comfortable from the first lap and when I came in and saw the lap times I was doing I decided to put my head down for a couple of laps and see what I was capable of."

Edwards' Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi was second fastest today, just 0.025 seconds down on the American's best lap of 1'29.960 at a circuit where he has celebrated victory on four of his last five visits. John Hopkins completed the hypothetical front row in third place riding the Suzuki, although grid positions will not be decided until tomorrow's single qualifying practice session, which takes place at 14.00h BST.

Despite setting the fastest time in the afternoon, Barros was unable to improve on his own best effort from the morning and ended the day fourth fastest on the combined time sheets. The Brazilian, who is suffering from slight back pain after his crash on the opening lap of the race at Laguna Seca in the last round, is making his 250th Grand Prix appearance this weekend and is searching for his fourth podium finish at this circuit.

Marco Melandri was involved in the collision with Barros that saw both riders end up in the gravel two weeks ago but the Italian returned to form with the fifth fastest time of the day at a circuit that lies just two kilometres from his adopted home village. Melandri was just 0.060 seconds faster than his Honda team-mate Sete Gibernau, with the Spaniard followed by Kenny Roberts, Troy Bayliss, Nicky Hayden and Loris Capirossi – all separated by less than a tenth of a second each.

Hayden was literally brought back down to earth after the joy of his debut win at Laguna Seca two weeks ago when he was caught out by the afternoon rain and crashed. The American escaped uninjured, as did fellow crashers Roberto Rolfo, Carlos Checa, Makoto Tamada and Ruben Xaus, who all tumbled out during the morning practice.


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