Catalunya MotoGP: Rossi denies Pedrosa

Published: 08 June 2007

Valentino Rossi produced a masterful late charge to claim the fastest time in this afternoon's second free MotoGP practice session at the Catalunya circuit.

Rossi clocked his best time of 1.43.313 with less than a minute remaining as home favourite Dani Pedrosa dropped from the top of the leaderboard to third at the end of the session.

The Spaniard had looked likely to set the best time even though he was lucky to escape injury in a big crash early in the session.

He'd just clocked a best time of 1.43.391 on his fifth lap when on his sixth lap he lost the front at the fast Curva Renault right-hander.

Pedrosa slid into the gravel trap on his back and walked away immediately from the crash, but his factory Repsol Honda RC212V was badly damaged, and not helped by marshals making a hash of recovering his V4.

Forced onto to his second machine, Pedrosa was unable to better his time in the 17 laps he subsequently completed. But his 1.43.391 still looked good enough to continue his impressive form on home soil after he'd been quickest in this morning's opening session.

But Rossi then relegated him to second place to the groans of a partisan Barcelona crowd with a best lap of 1.43.313. That moved the Italian, who is chasing a ninth GP victory in Pedrosa's backyard, just 0.078s clear of the 21-year-old.

Pedrosa, who is yet to win in the new 800cc era, was then bumped down to third when American John Hopkins posted a 1.43.389 right at the death. There was some consolation for Pedrosa in that his best time of 1.43.099 clocked this morning was good enough for the fastest time of the day. Pedrosa was one of seven riders who were slower this afternoon with a big increase in track temperatures of 16 degrees from this morning.

After finishing sixth fastest this morning, Rossi was much more of a prominent figure this afternoon and a lap of 1.43.670 saw him third for a long spell. As he did this morning, he began to up the pace in the decisive final ten minutes.
Nine minutes remained when he logged a 1.43.585 to move within 0.194s of Hopkins. Ironically that was the exact same lap time that had carried the Rizla Suzuki rider to second for the majority of the session.

Just four minutes were left when Rossi moved into second outright with a 1.43.582 that was marginally faster to move to within 0.191s of Pedrosa before his decisive late charge.

Rossi's time was 0.4s faster than he managed this morning while Hopkins was 0.3s faster. Casey Stoner was only fifth quickest but he was one of the seven who failed to go any quicker this afternoon. He set a time of 1.43.683 to finish behind Toni Elias.

French GP winner Chris Vermeulen was sixth fastest with a best of 1.43.713 while Loris Capirossi had problems this afternoon.

The veteran Italian was fifth quickest this morning but only 14th this afternoon as he couldn't even break into the 43s. This morning's time though still left him sixth fastest on combined times.