Marco Simoncelli topped the timesheets in the first session of free practice at the Sachsenring, but though the San Carlo Gresini Honda man's times were impressive, the big news from the session was the number of riders crashing at Turn 11, the fast right hander at the top of the hill. Toni Elias was the first victim to be claimed by the hill, followed by Casey Stoner, Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa, everyone sliding at high speed into the gravel and tumbling. Stoner's crash looked the nastiest, the rear whipping round and tossing him over the handlebars of his Repsol Honda as it caught and highsided, but everyone came away relatively unharmed. Valentino Rossi was the rider to suffer the most, the slide burning a hole in his leathers on his forearm, and he was taken to the Clinica Mobile for treatment. The injury was only minor, however, as the Italian rejoined the session with a few minutes left to go.
Though much has been made of the Bridgestones tendency to let go when not warmed up properly - and Casey Stoner had warned about that corner yesterday, as Turn 11 is the only really fast right hander, coming after a long series of lefts - there was perhaps more to these crashes than that. Conditions were certainly very cold, making the tires sensitive to temperature, but Stoner's crew told MotoGP.com staff that the strong, gusty wind at the top of the hill made that corner even more difficult than usual, and that could have been a contributing factor.
Leaving the crashes to one side, Simoncelli led the session by a margin of over half a second for most of practice, his rivals only closing the gap towards the end. Casey Stoner ended in 2nd - though only after saving a huge front end slide on his fast lap at Turn 11 once again - with Jorge Lorenzo in 3rd. Nicky Hayden was fast all throughout the session, finishing in 4th, ahead of Andrea Dovizioso and the wily Karel Abraham, the Cardion AB rider catching several tows to up his pace. Abraham was at the head of a gaggle of Ducatis, with Hector Barbera and Randy de Puniet in 7th and 8th, while Ben Spies and Colin Edwards ended the session in 9th and 10th respectively.
|8||14||Randy DE PUNIET||DUCATI||1'23.534||0.711||0.101|