Edwards fastest in crash strewn Turkey first session
American Colin Edwards took the spoils in an opening MotoGP session at Istanbul littered with mistakes and crashes.
Fiat Yamaha rider Edwards clocked a best time of 1.57.422 in just an eight-lap stint. This is after he confirmed to MCN he hadn’t got new engine upgrades like team-mate and world championship leader Valentino Rossi for the Turkish GP.
The session started on a damp track following heavy overnight rain and Edwards was one of only two riders to break the 1.58 barrier as he edged out Rizla Suzuki rider Chris Vermeulen, who was the pole-setter in Istanbul 12 months ago.
With track temperatures reaching only 18 degrees and grip levels low because of the rain, Edwards’ best was still close to five seconds outside of the 990cc lap record held by Toni Elias.
With damp patches scattered around the circuit only 11 riders took to the track for the first half of the 60-minute session.
Most sat watching in leathers in pitlane or on TV monitors in their garage.
On a rapidly drying track, Italian Marco Melandri put his recent troubles behind him in his quest for a hat-trick of victories in Turkey.
Melandri was top of the timesheets before he crashed his Gresini Honda RC212V at the first corner with six minutes of the session remaining.
Melandri, who yesterday denied making scathing comments during the Easter break about Honda and the level of support he’s receiving, lost the front end.
Seconds later in-form Aussie Casey Stoner crashed his factory Ducati GP7.
The 21-year-old escaped injury after he lost the rear while he was holding seventh place.
Stoner finished the session 13th fastest while a third Bridgestone rider also bit the dust this morning.
Frenchman Randy de Puniet crashed on his second lap and was limping heavily after banging his right ankle, though he returned to action later on his spare Kawasaki ZX-RR.
Shinya Nakano ended up ninth fastest despite his Konica Minolta Honda suffering a spectacular engine blow-up just before the halfway stage.
Series leader Rossi was 17th fastest and reigning world champion Nicky Hayden was 11th quickest running a new chassis for the first time on a race weekend.
The Repsol Honda rider tested the frame after last month’s Spanish GP and felt an instant improvement in rear traction.
First practice results:
1 Colin EDWARDS Fiat Yamaha Team 1'57.422
2 Chris VERMEULEN Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1'57.794
3 John HOPKINS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1'58.554
4 Dani PEDROSA Repsol Honda Team 1'58.597
5 Alex HOFMANN Pramac d'Antin 1'58.800
6 Marco MELANDRI Honda Gresini 1'58.802
7 Olivier JACQUE Kawasaki Racing Team 1'58.821
8 Loris CAPIROSSI Ducati Marlboro Team 1'58.857
9 Shinya NAKANO Konica Minolta Honda 1'59.016
1 Sylvain GUINTOLI Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3 1'59.078
10 Nicky HAYDEN Repsol Honda Team 1'59.209
11 Alex BARROS Pramac d'Antin 1'59.371
12 Casey STONER Ducati Marlboro Team 1'59.426
13 Carlos CHECA Honda LCR 1'59.921
14 Toni ELIAS Honda Gresini 2'00.362
15 Makoto TAMADA Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3 2'00.467
16 Valentino ROSSI Fiat Yamaha Team 2'00.539
17 Randy DE PUNIET Kawasaki Racing Team 2'00.941
18 Kenny ROBERTS JR Team Roberts 2'03.333