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Rossi reigns on day one at Phillip Island

Rossi reigns on day one at Phillip Island

Rossi reigns on day one at Phillip Island

Valentino Rossi continued to reign supreme as MotoGP returned to Phillip Island today with the recently crowned World Champion on top form in free practice at his favourite track. After taking victory here for the past four seasons Rossi made his intentions of extending his reign for a further year perfectly clear with a scorching lap of 1'30.349 – a time which was inside the current circuit record and over a second too fast for all but three riders to contend with.

"This was a fantastic first day for us, especially the afternoon," said Rossi. "In the race at Sepang a few weeks ago we had a few problems even though we had been very fast in preseason, and here it has been the opposite way around. We had a few difficulties in the morning but we worked them out in the afternoon and found a really good setting. The balance of the bike is excellent and when you have a good feeling at this circuit you can have a lot of fun."

Kenny Roberts and Loris Capirossi will both miss out on the rest of the weekend's action after falling at high speed in this morning's opening session. Roberts fractured his left wrist when he crashed his Suzuki in the notoriously difficult Doohan curve, only to be followed to the medical centre by Capirossi after a virtually identical crash in the same corner. After initial tests the Italian appeared fit enough to return to the track for the afternoon session but further tests at the nearby Dandenong Private Hospital revealed internal bruising and ruled him out of Sunday's race.

In Capirossi's absence his Ducati team-mate Carlos Checa was the only man able to get close to Rossi today, with a late lap from the Spaniard closing the Italian's advantage down to 0.270 seconds. Nicky Hayden and Sete Gibernau were the only two other riders within a second of Rossi's best time, with fifth-fastest Alex Barros some 1.110 seconds adrift of the World Champion, who is aiming for his eleventh victory of the season.


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