LCR Honda rider Randy de Puniet sprang a surprise in the first MotoGP practice session for the Alice TT Assen, occupying the top spot on the timesheet with a 1’37.842 lap that came from out of nowhere late in the session.
For the majority of the hour-long run, Fiat Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo had resumed their inter-team tussle by trading fastest laps, but eventually the duo were usurped by flying Frenchman De Puniet and then Lorenzo by Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner –the rider with whom the leaders are tied on 106 points in the overall classification.
Just five-thousandths of a second divided De Puniet and Rossi, with Stoner a further three-hundredths down and Lorenzo only just unable to breach the 1’38 barrier. Trailing the early pacesetters were Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso & Dani Pedrosa and Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Colin Edwards, all under half-a-second down on De Puniet.
Adjusting to the track in the first practice run, many riders took a trip into the run-off areas in their quest to find the limit of their 800cc machinery. However, only one rider came off his bike, namely Scot Racing’s Yuki Takahashi. The Japanese rider suffered a highside that left him shaken but apparently uninjured.
Barcelona racewinner Álvaro Bautista kept up his momentum on day one in Assen, riding fastest off all the 250cc riders in the class’ first outing in the Netherlands. The Mapfre Aspar rider is chasing his fourth pole position of the year, and set himself up well with a 1’40.617 lap.
He was the only rider to break into the 1’40s in the sunny afternoon run, although fellow Spaniard Héctor Barberá came within two-thousandths of a second of joining him. The Pepeworld man was second quickest, with Mike di Meglio, Alex Debón and Mattia Pasini the only riders within a second of Bautista’s crushing fast lap.
Marco Simoncelli’s Barcelona woes continued in Assen with another crash for the reigning World Champion. The Metis Gilera rider –yesterday confirmed as a MotoGP entrant for 2010- lost the front end of his bike midway through the session, and was forced to sit by and watch as his mechanics looked to repair the machine.
World Championship leader Julián Simón was the quickest rider out of the blocks in the opening 125cc practice session for the Alice TT Assen, stopping the clock at 1’46.725 onboard his Bancaja Aspar two-stroke.
The Spaniard was some dead-on two-tenths of a second quicker than second fastest man Sergio Gadea, his teammate in Jorge Martinez ‘Aspar’s successful 125cc structure. Simón’s lap knocked Gadea off the top spot in the final moments of the session.
Nico Terol, riding as the number one rider for the Jack&Jones WRB team for the first time following the departure of Simone Corsi from the Sito Pons-run outfit, continued the form that had taken him onto the podium in Barcelona two weeks ago, placing third ahead of title contender Bradley Smith in a tight top four.