Dani Pedrosa cast aside some of his Twin Ring Motegi demons earlier today to clock the best time on the opening day of practice for the Japanese MotoGP round.
It was at the Japanese track 12 months ago when a major throttle malfunction on his factory Honda RC212V machine in practice smashed the Spaniard’s left collarbone, ending his faint world title hopes.
The triple world champion was then hit by further problems after surgery to repair the damage caused complications that lasted into the 2011 season, with Pedrosa struck by a numbness issue in his left arm.
Last year’s nightmare though was quickly forgotten as Pedrosa led a Honda domination of practice at the Twin Ring Motegi today, with the RC212V machine occupying the top four places on the timesheets.
A best lap of 1.46.790 secured Pedrosa top spot by just 0.054s ahead of Repsol Honda team-mate Casey Stoner, who had topped the timesheets with a 1.47.289 in the morning session.
Pedrosa was a massive 1.1s faster this afternoon with Italian duo Andrea Dovizioso and Marco Simoncelli completing Honda’s dominance by finishing third and fourth respectively.
Dovizioso set a best time of 1.46.952 to finish just 0.108s behind world championship leader Stoner.
Simoncelli, who was unhurt in a front-end crash at Turn 9 this morning, was a further 0.236s back in fourth.
Reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo was fifth fastest with a best time of 1.47.310. He was 0.6s quicker this afternoon but he was still 0.520s behind compatriot Pedrosa’s best pace on the factory Yamaha YZR-M1.
Nicky Hayden was only 0.071s behind Lorenzo on Ducati’s GP11.1, with team-mate Valentino Rossi remaining the only Ducati rider on board a new aluminium frame the Italian rode for the first time at the previous race at the Motorland Aragon.
Hayden was third this morning and although he improved from a 1.47.732 to a 1.47.381, he still dropped three places down the rankings.
Home favourite Hiroshi Aoyama was seventh with Rossi in eighth place. The 32-year-old logged a best time of 1.47.975 to shave 0.7s off his first session time.
Continuing to work on the aluminium chassis made by British company FTR, he was still 1.185s behind Pedrosa.
Ben Spies was a lowly 12th after the American could only complete five laps this afternoon before he had to park his factory Yamaha YZR-M1 machine.
He has been suffering with food poisoning picked up on the long flight to Tokyo from America and he could only manage a best time of 1.48.567 before he stopped to undergo treatment in the medical centre for exhaustion.
British rider Cal Crutchlow was an encouraging 14th on his first visit to the Twin Ring Motegi.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider was one second faster this afternoon with a best of 1.48.379. That was just over 0.3s away from team-mate Colin Edwards in 10th.