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Hopkins maintains pace in first Saturday session

Hopkins maintains pace in first Saturday session

Rizla Suzuki's John Hopkins kept up his pace from Friday's workouts to top the timesheets again this morning in the third MotoGP free practice session at the Shanghai International Circuit.

Rizla Suzuki's John Hopkins kept up his pace from Friday's workouts to top the timesheets again this morning in the third MotoGP free practice session at the Shanghai International Circuit, ahead of qualifying later today for the Sinopec Great Wall Lubricants Grand Prix of China.

On a grey morning in China the Suzuki man powered round in 2'00.571 on the last of his 23 practice laps, knocking 0.633s of his best Friday time and lapping 0.076s faster than nearest challenger Casey Stoner (Ducati Marlboro) – despite an 11km/h top speed disadvantage to the current World Championship leader.

Third quickest was Fiat Yamaha's Colin Edwards who has often looked sharp in practice and qualifying sessions this season and lapped just over a tenth of a second slower than compatriot Hopkins as he looks to bounce back from his crash in Turkey.

Just behind Edwards was the ever consistent Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa, who was 0.161s off the pace - meaning that four different manufacturers featured in the top four on the timesheets.

Edwards' illustrious team-mate Valentino Rossi suffered an off-track excursion at one stage but was not overly troubled as he lapped fifth quickest, ahead of Loris Capirossi (Ducati Marlboro) and Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda).

The leading seven positions were therefore occupied by factory riders, whilst Honda Gresini's Marco Melandri went round in 2'01.072 meaning that eight participants in the session lapped faster than the best Friday time set by Hopkins yesterday afternoon.

After a battling second place finish in Turkey, Melandri's colleague Toni Elias has been off the pace so far in China and had another disappointing session this morning, lapping 1.257s slower Hopkins' time and leaving the track at one stage on his Honda machinery – finishing as the 14th fastest rider on the timesheet.

Another man who impressed in Istanbul but has yet to find the pace in Shanghai is Pramac D'Antin's Brazilian veteran Alex Barros who despite recording a top speed of 330.3km/h on the track with the longest straight on the MotoGP calendar was also more than a second slower than Hopkins in 13th place.

Tags:
MotoGP, 2007, SINOPEC GREAT WALL LUBRICANTS GRAND PRIX OF CHINA, FP3

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