Catalunya MotoGP: Dani Pedrosa fastest

Published: 08 June 2007

Home favourite Dani Pedrosa made the perfect start to his quest for a first 800cc MotoGP victory this morning when he set the fastest time in opening free practice at the Catalunya circuit.

Boosted by his second place in Mugello five days ago, the Repsol Honda rider produced looked in ominous form this morning on board the rapidly improving factory Honda RC212V.

The triple world champion set the best time of 1.43.099 with under five minutes remaining to the delight of a sizeable Friday crowd basking in glorious sunny conditions.

Pedrosa's best comfortably beat MotoGP world championship leader Casey Stoner into second. Stoner's best time of 1.43.543 set on his 21st lap left him trailing Pedrosa by 0.444s.

Pedrosa first started to make his charge with ten minutes of the session remaining when he logged a 1.43.793 to jump into second place behind American John Hopkins.

On his next lap he took over at the top with a 1.43.555 that edged him 0.050s clear of Hopkins' factory Suzuki GSV-R.

His brilliant late surge continued on his next lap too when he dropped his time to 1.43.513 to leave Hopkins 0.092s adrift. He extended that advantage to 0.135s on his next lap with a 1.43.470.

His best lap though put clear daylight between the field as Stoner had to settle for second place. Defending a nine-point lead over Valentino Rossi going into this weekend's Catalunya clash, Stoner jumped from fourth to second with five minutes remaining when he clocked a 1.43.782 lap. That moved him to 0.312s behind Pedrosa, and despite improving his time to a 1.43.543 he lost another 0.1s on his former 250 GP rival.

Toni Elias finished third fastest with a best time of 1.43.551 as Hopkins was bumped down to fourth at the end of the 60-minute session.

Hopkins was fastest for over half the session but he couldn't better his best of 1.43.605 that he clocked on only the eighth of his 28-lap stint.

Loris Capirossi was fifth fastest to relegate Mugello winner Rossi down to sixth. Rossi had been as high as second with just minutes of the session remaining when he logged a 1.43.777. He bettered that with a 1.43.705 on his last lap but it left the Italian just one place ahead of Fiat Yamaha team-mate Colin Edwards who posted a best of 1.43.768.

Marco Melandri, who had set the early pace after following Hopkins, eventually finished eighth quickest.

French Yamaha rider Sylvain Guintoli escaped injury when he crashed his Tech 3 YZR-M1 in the opening ten minutes. He missed his braking marker at the Curva Campsa and tipped off as he hurtled through the gravel trap. He escaped injury.
There were also off-track excursions for French factory Kawasaki rider Randy de Puniet and reigning world champion Nicky Hayden, who finished in a disappointing 14th place.

Official Times:

  1. Dani Pedrosa 1:43.099
  2. Casey Stoner 1:43.543
  3. Toni Elias 1:43.551
  4. John Hopkins 1:43.605
  5. Loris Capirossi 1:43.631
  6. Valentino Rossi 1:43.705
  7. Colin Edwards 1:43.768
  8. Marco Melandri 1:43.816
  9. Carlos Checa 1:43.866
  10. Alex Barros 1:44.011
  11. Chris Vermeulen 1:44.037
  12. Randy De Puniet 1:44.436
  13. Alex Hofmann 1:44.528
  14. Nicky Hayden 1:44.689
  15. Olivier Jacque 1:44.742
  16. Makoto Tamada 1:44.815
  17. Shinya Nakano 1:44.842
  18. Sylvain Guintoli 1:45.150
  19. Kenny Roberts Jr 1:45.467
  20. Kurtis Roberts 1:45.871