Friday, October 1


SPANIARD Dani Pedrosa is out of action following a crash in just his third lap of practice for the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi on Friday afternoon.

The 25 year-old Repsol Honda rider had completed just two laps when he came off his factory RC212V between turns eight and nine, and was stretchered to the medical centre where his injury was confirmed following X-rays. He had broken his left collarbone - in three places.

Observers noted the Honda behaved strangely when Pedrosa went for the brakes and Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) later revealed the problem was a stuck throttle. A malfunction with the fly-by-wire throttle caused the butterflies to stay open as Pedrosa braked, instead of shutting off, upsetting the balance of the bike under braking and causing Pedrosa to crash.

Pedrosa will miss this weekend’s race and will return to Spain where he will undergo surgery before making a decision on when he will make his racing return.

Heading into the weekend Pedrosa was 56 points behind compatriot Jorge Lorenzo (Fiat Yamaha) in the MotoGP Championship chase and was the only rider capable of preventing Lorenzo from winning the title.

Meantime Fiat Yamaha's other rider, Valentino Rossi, surprised everyone by eventually setting fastest time in the first hour-long practice session that had been lead by Australian Ducati rider Casey Stoner for most of it.

After having experienced dip in form in recent weeks following his injury-plagued season, Rossi got his Grand Prix of Japan weekend off to a promising start with the a best time of 1m 48.174s on his final lap of the Twin Ring Motegi circuit and in doing so snatched top spot from fellow Italian Andrea Dovizioso on the second Repsol Honda, leaving him 0.213s clear at the end of the session.

Rossi's time was under his 2009 pole position winning 1m 48.545s but was more than a second outside the circuit lap record, which stands to Casey Stoner at 1m 48.091s, a time set during his run to fourth place in teh 2008 race.

The MotoGP pole position record was also set in 2008, by Lorenzo but it is doubtful anyone will better the 1m 45.543s lap he laid down as fastest qualifier in 2008 - a race he eventually finished fourth, behind Rossi, Stoner and Pedrosa.

Dovizioso had led the session until the final moments, eventually placing second with his time of 1m 48.387s. Just 0.087s behind him was title leader Lorenzo, who was exactly three-tenths of a second off his team-mate Rossi’s pace.

Casey Stoner set the fourth fastest time on his Ducati Desmosedici GP10, just seven-thousandths off Lorenzo, with Ben Spies (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) recovering from a moment midway through the session to place fifth.

Hiroshi Aoyama (Interwetten Honda MotoGP) completed the top six after an impressive session ended with the Japanese rider looking in good shape for his home GP.

Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), Héctor Barberá (Páginas Amarillas Aspar), Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki) – on his return after a one-race absence through injury – and Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini Team) were all inside the top ten.

There were run-offs during the session for Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda), Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini Team) and Aleix Espargaró (Pramac Racing), whilst Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) had a crash inside the final five minutes, from which the American walked away uninjured.

Once again, while Stoner carries the Ducati flag up front, Hayden is fighting for the best position on the rear of the grid.

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