Rossi Tops First Practice in Catalunya

Valentino Rossi looks set to “return the favor” to teammate Jorge Lorenzo in Catalonia this weekend, as the reigning MotoGP champion topped the first practice session at Barcelona earlier today. After he was defeated by Lorenzo at his home circuit Mugello, the Italian finished the afternoon practice at Circuit de Catalonia some two tenths of a second clear of his Yamaha teammate, while Ducati's Casey Stoner had to settle for 3rd place.

Rossi waited until 5 minutes to the end of the one-hour session to record his quickest time of the day, dethroning Lorenzo from the top of the time charts with a smashing lap time of 1:43.038. The Spaniard tried to respond in the dying laps of the practice session, but he could only come 3 tenths of a second closer to Rossi and therefore settle for 2nd place.

Stoner managed to score the 3rd fastest time of the day despite having to switch bikes due to an early fall, while followed by Repsol Honda's Andrea Dovisiozo and LCR Honda's Randy de Puniet.

The good news from Catalonia comes from former MotoGP champion Nicky Hayden's fans, as the Ducati works rider scored the 6th best time of the Friday practice. The Kentuckian finally scored some decent lap times on his Ducati for the first time this season, as he managed to finish in front of Suzuki's Loris Capirossi and Tech 3 Yamaha's Colin Edwards.

Dani Pedrosa, the enthusiast semi-injured Honda rider that did not want to miss the Catalonian weekend despite his Mugello crash two weeks ago, finished on a distant 14th place, some 2 places lower than Spain's other returnee-from-injury Sete Gibernau.

Former 125cc champion Gabor Talmacsi, who was announced as Team Scot's second rider for the Catalonian race in the MotoGP class, was the slowest of the pack on Friday, having experienced a MotoGP bike for the first time in career.

Here is the official time sheet of today's practice session in Barcelona:

1. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha)                      1:43.038
2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha)                        1:43.340
3. Casey Stoner (Ducati)                            1:43.636
4. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda)                      1:43.684
5. Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda)               1:43.871
6. Nicky Hayden (Ducati)                            1:44.152
7. Loris Capirossi (Suzuki)                          1:44.340
8. Colin Edwards (Tech 3 Yamaha)             1:44.419
9. Yuki Takahashi (Scot Honda)                  1:44.484
10. James Toseland (Tech 3 Yamaha)        1:44.580
11. Marco Melandri (Hayate Kawasaki)       1:44.649
12. Sete Gibernau (Hernando Ducati)         1:44.678
13. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki)                      1:44.744
14. Dani Pedrosa (Honda)                           1:45.043
15. Toni Elias Gresini (Honda)                     1:45.101
16. Alex de Angelis (Gresini Honda)            1:45.126
17. Mika Kallio (Pramac Ducati)                   1:45.394
18. Niccolo Canepa (Pramac Ducati)           1:45.454
19. Gabor Talmacsi (Scot Honda)                1:47.654
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