Aragon MotoGP: Dani Pedrosa heads first practice

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Dani Pedrosa kicked off preparations for the Motorland Aragon MotoGP race in impressive fashion this morning, the Repsol Honda rider ending first free practice on top of the timesheets in hot and sunny conditions.

A final lap of 1.50.281 saw the Spaniard claim top spot from compatriot and reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo by 0.449s.

Lorenzo held onto second by 0.076s from title rival Casey Stoner in third after he clocked a best time of 1.50.730 on the factory Yamaha YZR-M1.

Stoner, who won the inaugural Aragon clash a year ago for Ducati, had dominated for the majority of the session but he was third and his best time of 1.50.806 was 0.525s behind team-mate Pedrosa.

Marco Simoncelli, Andrea Dovizioso and Randy de Puniet completed the top six with Valentino Rossi ending the 45-minute session in eighth position.

All eyes were on Italian Rossi once again as he made his first public appearance on Ducati’s latest radically revamped Desmosedici machine.

Rossi’s bike features a new aluminium chassis instead of the previous carbon fibre version, with the nine-times world champion searching to improve an understeer and vague front-end feeling issue with the Ducati.

The latest modification is the second major re-design of the bike in three months and Rossi logged a personal best of 1.51.676 to finish 1.395s behind Pedrosa.

He was actually the third fastest Ducati rider behind de Puniet and team-mate Nicky Hayden, with the trio all on different spec machinery.

French rider de Puniet is riding the GP11 that Rossi started the season on, Hayden is on the GP11.1 that was rolled out in Assen, while Rossi is on the latest spec model with the aluminium frame.

Rossi was 0.258s slower than Hayden this morning.

It was a tough first session for British rider Cal Crutchlow, who had an early off-track excursion while he tried to get to grips with the track he’d only ever seen on TV before.

The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider ended with a best time of 1.52.580 to finish in 14th place. He was 2.299s adrift of Pedrosa.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt