Catalunya MotoGP: Jorge Lorenzo fastest on home soil

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Jorge Lorenzo’s charge towards his first MotoGP world title continued this afternoon at a sun-drenched Catalunya circuit in Spain.

The overwhelming favourite for the 2010 world title claimed top spot in opening practice for this weekend’s Catalunya Grand Prix with a best time of 1.43.259 that beat factory Ducati rival Casey Stoner by just 0.153s.

Lorenzo, who has won four out of the opening six races of the season to open up a commanding 47-point lead over Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, climbed to the top of the timesheets shortly after the halfway stage.

He was able to stretch his advantage at one stage to nearly 0.3s over Stoner before a late surge from the Australian narrowed the gap to under two-tenths.

A best lap of 1.43.412 from 2007 world champion Stoner secured him second place with Mugello winner Pedrosa having to settle for third in front of his home crowd.

Pedrosa logged a best time of 1.43.631 to end up 0.372s behind Lorenzo.

Pedrosa’s Italian team-mate Andrea Dovizioso, who has remarkably never claimed a front row start in MotoGP, was fourth quickest with a best time 1.43.725. That left him just 0.094s off Pedrosa.

American Ben Spies was another to produce a brilliant late attack as he tried to master the technical Catalunya circuit for the first time.

Spies, who was cycling on the track this morning before 8am, climbed from 15th to fifth on his penultimate lap of a session running in searing hot temperatures.

The reigning World Superbike champion ended with a best time of 1.43.854 to finish 0.595s off Lorenzo and just 0.129s behind Dovizioso.

Aleix Espargaro was a brilliant sixth with a best time of 1.44.196 that was just short of 0.9s off the best pace.

Spaniard Alvaro Bautista was the only crasher in the session when he fell off his factory Suzuki GSV-R with just over twenty minutes completed. The Spaniard finished in 12th.

Valentino Rossi’s injury replacement Wataru Yoshikawa was not surprisingly in last place.

Riding the nine-times world champion’s factory YZR-M1, the 41-year-old logged a best time of 1.48.015 to finish just 0.258s behind Honda test rider Kousuke Akiyoshi.

Akiyoshi is replacing injured Japanese rider Hiroshi Aoyama on the Interwetten RC212V.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt