Simoncelli makes mark in Motegi 250cc practice

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Friday, 24 April 2009

Reigning World Champion fastest in first 250cc session.

In need of World Championship points after missing the opening race of the season, Marco Simoncelli came out swinging in the first 250cc free practice session for the Polini Grand Prix of Japan. The 2008 racewinner and reigning World Champion put in a series of isolated hot laps, culminating in a 1’53.093 time that gave him the early advantage in the quarter-litre class.

The Metis Gilera rider is still suffering from the after-effects of scaphoid surgery, something which prevented his competing in qualifying and the race in Qatar. Although his endurance is yet to be tested, Simoncelli has showed himself to be in better condition to that which he experienced two weeks ago.

Simoncelli was over six-tenths of a second faster than rival Hiroshi Aoyama, who just missed out on the podium at round one and is determined to return to the rostrum for his home race. The Scot Racing rider was in turn just over a tenth faster than Álvaro Bautista, another rider keen to make amends for disappointment in the season opener.

Despite finishing the session fourth, Mattia Pasini’s late crash on Friday afternoon leaves his Team Toth mechanics with plenty of work to do ahead of Saturday practice and qualifying.

Series leader Héctor Barberá returned to the scene of his 2008 season-ending crash with the fifth quickest time in the quarter-litre class, whilst Raffaele de Rosa, Gabor Talmacsi, Mike di Meglio, Roberto Locatelli and Álex Debón rounded off the top ten.

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