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Simoncelli leads a Honda top three in FP1

Simoncelli leads a Honda top three in FP1

San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Simoncelli made a positive start to his weekend for the bwin Grande Prémio de Portugal by setting the early pace in the first practice at Estoril. Repsol Honda riders Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa were second and third quickest in a closely fought session.

The Italian was fastest after his disappointment of crashing out whilst leading the wet race in Spain. The 24 year-old’s best time of 1’38.032 was an advantage of 0.209s over the Australian after collecting the quickest time of FP1 in the dying moments.

At the undulating circuit in Portugal, the weather predictions had suggested variable conditions but the first practice of the weekend for the MotoGP class was run in cloudy and humid conditions. After a three-week break after Jerez, many riders were returning to the track following surgery from injuries.

Stoner had a problem with a loose cable in the early stages of the first practice which saw him sitting in the pits whilst it was fixed. The 25 year-old clawed his way to the top of the timesheets with a few minutes remaining but was edged out by his fellow Honda rider. After surgery on his shoulder, Pedrosa completed 19 laps to finish 0.227s off Simoncelli’s best lap.

Fresh from claiming his first ever wet race victory, Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing) was fourth fastest after leading the session early on. The reigning World Champion’s deficit to Simoncelli was 0.381s on a circuit where the Spaniard has won for the past three seasons.

Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) was the quickest Ducati in the first practice ahead of fellow compatriot Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda). The Italian duo were 0.537s and 0.749s respectively off the top time.

After retiring on the final lap in Jerez whilst in a podium position, Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) was seventh fastest, ahead of Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing). The Texan had an excursion into the gravel at Turn 6 in the first part of the practice but was able to continue after the bike was repaired.

Rounding out the top ten places were the Ducatis of Héctor Barberá (Mapfre Aspar Team) and Randy de Puniet (Pramac Racing). The top ten riders were within 1.749s of each other.

Nicky Hayden who took the first Ducati Team podium of 2011 in the last race, suffered a mechanical problem in the last ten minutes of the session and had to stop the bike and make his own way back to the pits. The American was able to rejoin on his second bike and finished in 14th place.

Álvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) who on Thursday was passed fit to ride this weekend after breaking his left leg in the season opener at Losail finished in 17th place, 3.002s off the pace after confirming he was going to use FP1 to test his fitness back on the bike. The Spaniard completed 20 laps.


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