Pedrosa leads the way in first free practice at Laguna Seca

Friday, 27 July 2012

The Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix in Laguna Seca got underway with Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa setting the fastest time of the first free practice session ahead of Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner.

Pedrosa, who lined up with an updated chassis and engine was one of the pace setters throughout the session, setting a time of 1.21’424 towards the end. This was sufficient to displace current championship leader, Yamaha Factory Racing’s Lorenzo, who was less than a tenth behind his compatriot. Pedrosa’s teammate Stoner, who is only using the new engine in the older chassis, had been fastest out of the blocks, but ended the session over four tenths off the top.

Fourth place went to Lorenzo’s teammate and local rider Ben Spies, who this week announced he will be leaving Yamaha at the end of the season. He looked in good spirits however as he lapped just over a tenth slower than the Australian world champion, ahead of Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso, who will be looking for his fifth podium finish this season. He will once again face a stiff challenge from his teammate Cal Crutchlow, who ended the session in sixth.

Seventh place went to Ducati Team’s Valentino Rossi, over 1.7s off the front, with LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl in tow. Both were just marginally faster than Rossi’s teammate and local favourite Nicky Hayden, who just before the session announced he had singed a one-year extension with the Italian outfit. San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista rounded out the top ten, whilst NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards came in top CRT with his Suter-BMW in 11th.

The MotoGP grid also welcomed back Cardion AB Racing’s Karel Abraham from injury, with the Czech rider posting the 13th quickest time of the session. Pramac Racing Team’s Héctor Barberá is a notable absentee this weekend after breaking his left leg in a motocross accident last weekend. He is replaced by Toni Elías, who was 15th in his first premier-class outing since last season. The line up also saw Attack Performance wildcard Steve Rapp take to the track on the US company’s in-house built APR CRT machine. He finished his first outing in 22nd.

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