Reigning world champion Valentino Rossi made a brilliant start to his quest for a tenth home victory in Mugello today after he led a Yamaha domination of opening MotoGP practice.
Rossi, who is sporting a new Mohican haircut for his home race, produced a brilliant burst of speed in the final ten minutes to finish well clear of current world championship leader and Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo.
Rossi didn’t take long to find his form at his beloved Mugello and in the early stages he was able to hold an advantage of over 0.7s under bright and sunny skies this afternoon.
Rossi eventually topped the timesheets with a best of 1.49.751 on his 23rd lap that Lorenzo couldn’t overhaul despite his own impressive late surge.
The Spaniard, who goes into the fourth race of the season on Sunday holding a slender nine-point lead over Rossi, posted a best time of 1.50.120 on his penultimate lap. But it was only good enough to finish 0.369s adrift of his closest title rival.
Loris Capirossi snatched third place with a lap of 1.50.359 in the final stages to prevent a Yamaha 1-2-3.
The veteran Italian though crashed immediately after logging his best time at the first corner. He walked away unhurt but denied Colin Edwards a top three by 0.413s.
The Texan clocked a best time of 1.50.772, but was over a second away from Rossi with Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa in fifth.
Reigning World Superbike champion Ben Spies produced a hugely impressive performance on his first experience of the fast and technical Mugello circuit.
The 25-year-old posted a best time of 1.51.004 to finish 0.231s behind Pedrosa as he looks to bounce back from successive non-finishes in Jerez and Le Mans.
Casey Stoner was the big shock of the day as he ended in a bitterly disappointing seventh position after another tough outing on Ducati’s factory GP10.
The Australian is using 2009 spec Ohlins front forks in a bid to solve a mystery front-end issue that has seen him crash out of the Qatar and Le Mans races.
But the session was only seven minutes old when Stoner was in the gravel again.
He lost control on the bumps in the hard braking zone for the final corner and ran off track.
Unable to scrub off enough speed, Stoner ploughed the gravel for a few metres before losing control.
Just seconds later and fellow Ducati Hector Barbera crashed in identical circumstances at the same corner.