Dovizioso tops rain-hit practice
|By Matt Beer||Friday, May 15th 2009, 12:58 GMT|
Andrea Dovizioso emerged fastest for Honda as rain interrupted the first free practice session for the French Grand Prix at Le Mans.
Although the session was back up to one hour in duration following the FIM's decision to restore full-length practice from this race onwards, the action was all but over after 35 minutes, as rain showers prevented any fast laps later on.
Casey Stoner took second, with local favourite Randy de Puniet maintaining his strong form from Jerez to take third.
LCR Honda rider de Puniet had been at the forefront of some frantic early exchanges that saw the top spot repeatedly swapped between the Frenchman, both Suzuki riders, Hayate Kawasaki's Marco Melandri, and works Honda man Dovizioso.
Stoner (Ducati) had a quieter start to the hour, before leaping to the top spot, 0.099 seconds ahead of the impressive de Puniet after 25 minutes. He was usurped by Dovizioso a few minutes later, and shortly afterwards the rain began, frustrating the riders' hopes of completing further meaningful practice.
Many took to the track again for some exploratory laps as the rain eased with 10 minutes to go, only for the weather to then worsen again, confirming Dovizioso as the fastest man of the day.
Behind Stoner and de Puniet, Chris Vermeulen was fourth for Suzuki, ahead of Honda's Dani Pedrosa and championship leader Valentino Rossi (Yamaha).
Early pace-setters Melandri and Loris Capirossi (Suzuki) fell back to eighth and ninth, behind Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo, with Colin Edwards completing the top ten on the Tech 3 Yamaha.
Pos Rider Bike Time Gap 1. Andrea Dovizioso Honda 1m36.136s 2. Casey Stoner Ducati 1m36.194s + 0.058s 3. Randy de Puniet LCR Honda 1m36.293s + 0.157s 4. Chris Vermeulen Suzuki 1m36.301s + 0.165s 5. Dani Pedrosa Honda 1m36.476s + 0.340s 6. Valentino Rossi Yamaha 1m36.751s + 0.615s 7. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1m37.024s + 0.888s 8. Marco Melandri Hayate Kawasaki 1m37.024s + 0.888s 9. Loris Capirossi Suzuki 1m37.224s + 1.088s 10. Colin Edwards Tech 3 Yamaha 1m37.269s + 1.133s 11. Toni Elias Gresini Honda 1m37.270s + 1.134s 12. James Toseland Tech 3 Yamaha 1m37.738s + 1.602s 13. Mika Kallio Pramac Ducati 1m37.800s + 1.664s 14. Sete Gibernau Hernando Ducati 1m37.875s + 1.739s 15. Nicky Hayden Ducati 1m38.032s + 1.896s 16. Alex de Angelis Gresini Honda 1m38.323s + 2.187s 17. Yuki Takahashi Scot Honda 1m38.639s + 2.503s 18. Niccolo Canepa Pramac Ducati 1m39.116s + 2.980s