The first session of free practice for the MotoGP class at Motegi got off to a dramatic start, with Dani Pedrosa crashing out on just his third lap, falling heavily and fracturing a collarbone, potentially ending his weekend and his title hopes (see separate story). Despite the Repsol Honda rider's absence, an interesting session unfolded, which saw Marlboro Ducati's Casey Stoner lead until the final five minutes of practice. A strong lap by Pedrosa's Repsol teammate Andrea Dovizioso took the lead briefly, but a blistering lap by Valentino Rossi saw the Fiat Yamaha man finally bag the top spot.
That Rossi should set the fastest time came as something of a surprise: The reigning world champion has been suffering all year long with the consequences of a shoulder injury, and Rossi was expecting to have a very tough time with the hard braking for Motegi's many right handers. But Rossi ended the day two tenths ahead of Andrea Dovizioso, and three tenths ahead of his teammate, Jorge Lorenzo. Casey Stoner finished the session in 4th, ahead of Monster Tech 3 Yamaha's Ben Spies, and a surprisingly strong Hiroshi Aoyama on the Interwetten Honda. Aoyama is under a lot of pressure to perform at Motegi, as the team will lose its sponsor at the end of the season, and badly needs good results to secure funding for next year. Aoyama is hoping that a strong showing at his home Grand Prix will be enough to secure support from Honda for 2011.
|14||14||Randy DE PUNIET||HONDA||1'49.957||1.783||0.075|
|Not qualified (Out 107%) 1'55.746|