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Dovizioso tops rain-hit practice

Andrea Dovizioso, Honda, Le Mans practice 2009Andrea 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

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