Back in the Day
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The fiercely enthusiastic French MotoGP fans put in a respectable turnout for the first day of practice at the Bugatti Circuit in Le Mans, ahead of Sunday’s Alice Grand Prix of France. This came despite the unfavorable weather conditions, which brought strong gusts of wind and spells of rain.
Luckily there were dry conditions throughout the day for MotoGP and Colin Edwards finished the first day of free practices at the top of the classification, ahead of teammate Valentino Rossi by more than a tenth of a second. Edwards’ time of 1’35.170 comes on the back of his third place finish in Shanghai, with the American showing both rider and bike to be in good form.
Behind the Camel Yamaha double was an impressive start to the weekend for Shinya Nakano in his adopted home race, along with John Hopkins, Casey Stoner and Makoto Tamada. Sete Gibernau finished seventh with his Ducati partner Loris Capirossi, Shanghai race winner Dani Pedrosa and Marco Melandri all less than eight tenths of a second behind Edwards.
The first practice sessions in all three categories also featured an assortment of run-offs, a large number of which came at the modified first corner of the circuit. Casey Stoner and Randy de Puniet were amongst those falling foul of the newly configured turn, electing to cut across the gravel to save a more serious incident after the turn was tightened during the offseason.
In 250cc, Alex de Angelis has one hand on pole position for Sunday’s race. The San Marino rider was faster than current series leader Andrea Dovizioso and the Fortuna Aprilia duo of Hector Barbera and Jorge Lorenzo. The Mallorcan rider suffered a crash two minutes before the end of the session whilst pushing for the provisional pole.
Álvaro Bautista put himself in the driving seat with a provisional pole in 125cc qualifying at the Le Mans Circuit. His lap of 1'45.280 was sufficient to put him ahead of Mika Kallio, Lukas Pesek and Mike de Meglio. Behind them sit Sandro Cortese, Fabrizio Lai, Mattia Pasini and Gabor Talmacsi, who suffered a crash in the final minutes of the session. There are five Hondas in the top nine positions.
Aleix Espargaro, meanwhile, is out of Sunday’s race after suffering a fractured vertebrae.
1 C. Edwards Yamaha USA 1' 35.170
2 V. Rossi Yamaha ITA 1' 35.282
3 S. Nakano Kawasaki JPN 1' 35.447
4 J. Hopkins Suzuki USA 1' 35.461
5 C. Stoner Honda AUS 1' 35.546
6 M. Tamada Honda JPN 1' 35.625
7 S. Gibernau Ducati ESP 1' 35.628
8 L. Capirossi Ducati ITA 1' 35.662
9 D. Pedrosa Honda ESP 1' 35.796
10 M. Melandri Honda ITA 1' 35.935
11 N. Hayden Honda USA 1' 35.971
12 R. De Puniet Kawasaki FRA 1' 36.159
13 T. Elias Honda ESP 1' 36.191
14 C. Checa Yamaha ESP 1' 36.306
15 K. Roberts Team Roberts KR USA 1' 36.483
16 C. Vermeulen Suzuki AUS 1' 36.904
18 J. Ellison Yamaha GBR 1' 37.986
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