Motegi MotoGP: Valentino Rossi defies pain to top timesheets

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Valentino Rossi defied the constant pain from his damaged right shoulder to top the opening practice timesheets at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit today.

The 31-year-old feared severe tendon damage in his right shoulder would be a major issue at the Twin Ring Motegi, which is dominated by hard braking points.

But the 31-year-old looked in brilliant form throughout the session on his factory Yamaha YZR-M1, which features an updated engine for the Japanese Grand Prix.

Rossi had led for the opening 15 minutes but had dropped out of the top three when he stormed to a best time of 1.48.174 on his last flying lap.

That put the nine-times world champion 0.213s clear of compatriot Andrea Dovizioso, who had surged to the top of the leaderboard with just four minutes remaining.

Dovizioso’s fine performance for Honda though was completely overshadowed by news that Dani Pedrosa broke his left collarbone in a high-speed crash in the early stages of the session.

The incident effectively ends his slender hopes of winning the 2010 world title with the injury likely to keep him out of the forthcoming Sepang and Phillip Island races.
Jorge Lorenzo, who is already 56-points clear of the injured Pedrosa, ended the session in third place.

The 23-year-old clocked a best time of 1.48.474 to finish 0.300s behind Fiat Yamaha team-mate Rossi.

Casey Stoner had looked like he would top the timesheets having first taken control with just less than 25 minutes completed.

A best time of 1.48.481 put him well clear of Rossi by 0.560s but the Aussie was unable to better that time and he slipped down the rankings to fourth.

American Ben Spies was in impressive form again to finish in fifth position on his first visit to the Twin Ring Motegi.

A slow speed crash at turn three did little to knock him out of his stride and he posted a best time of 1.49.302 to finish 1.128s back of Rossi.

Home favourite Hiroshi Aoyama was a surprise sixth, a 1.49.357 leaving the Japanese rider 0.055s further back of Texan Spies’ Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt