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Melandri takes honours after eventful first day

Melandri takes honours after eventful first day

Melandri takes honours after eventful first day

Marco Melandri became the fastest man on a motorcycle around the Istanbul Park circuit as the first free practice sessions for the inaugural Turkish Grand Prix took place on Friday. Melandri quickly got to grips with the layout of the circuit and set the benchmark in the afternoon session with a lap of 1'53.506, some 0.439 seconds faster than his nearest rival, and team-mate, Sete Gibernau. Nicky Hayden, who is currently tied on points with Melandri in the chase for the runner-up spot in the championship, was third fastest, but he will be concerned by the Italian's early pace having only managed to get within 1.268 seconds today.

"I liked the track straight away, we found the right way to work straight from the morning session and I immediately had a good feeling with the bike," said Melandri. "It felt really natural to ride here because the bike was responding so well; the team have done a wonderful job. I am so happy – the tyres Michelin have brought here are working really well and the lap times are coming without having to push too hard. I want to keep my feet on the ground because no doubt the other top riders will be closer tomorrow, but I'm feeling calm. We've started on the right foot."

MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi, who sealed the title three races ago in Malaysia, lapped fifth fastest today after a problematic first day on the circuit. The Italian ran off track several times throughout the day and almost collided with Olivier Jacque in a frustrating end to the afternoon session. Rossi's Yamaha team-mate Colin Edwards had an even more eventful first day, the American suffering a front-end crash in the opening session before seeing his YZR-M1 machine catch fire in the afternoon due to problems caused by the morning incident.

With Shinya Nakano lapping fourth fastest on the Kawasaki, Carlos Checa showed signs that this could be a good weekend for Bridgestone tyres by clocking the sixth quickest time of the day on his Ducati. The Spaniard's team-mate Shinichi Itoh, standing in for the injured Loris Capirossi, ended his first day of MotoGP action this season in sixteenth place, whilst Chris Vermeulen, who is replacing Troy Bayliss at Honda for the second successive race, was two positions ahead of the Japanese veteran in fourteenth.


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