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Hayden starts strongest in damp first MotoGP practice session

Hayden starts strongest in damp first MotoGP practice session

Outgoing Honda star Nicky Hayden opened the MotoGP action in Motegi with the fastest time in Free Practice 1.

Repsol Honda´s Ducati-bound former World Champion Nicky Hayden began his Motegi swansong for the Japanese factory team with a strong opening run, heading the first MotoGP free practice standings. The American took his RC212V around the former Honda test track in a time of 1´59.773 during a damp session, ahead of the two principal challengers for this year´s title.

Hayden´s time was just over a tenth of a second quicker than the fastest lap by Valentino Rossi, the man who can clinch a sixth MotoGP crown this Sunday. One of only two riders who can keep the corks on the Cava this weekend, reigning World Champion Casey Stoner was a further seven-tenths down on Hayden´s marker.

Rejuvenated after his revelatory wet weather performance at Indianapolis, Jorge Lorenzo relished the opportunity to get onto the damp track on Friday morning. The second Fiat Yamaha rider was the only other rider within a second of Hayden, at a track that has seldom favoured the MotoGP rookie. The top six also included Alice Team´s Sylvain Guintoli and San Carlo Honda Gresini´s home rider Shinya Nakano.

Last year´s podium finisher Toni Elias also featured in the top ten, ahead of Anthony West, Andrea Doviioso and Chris Vermeulen. There were crashes for eleventh-placed Alex de Angelis and Rizla Suzuki wildcard Kousuke Akiyoshi during the session, with many more riders running off track as the conditions caught them out.


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