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MOTOGP NEWS 

Simoncelli tops first Mugello practice

Marco SimoncelliMarco Simoncelli set the pace in the opening practice session for the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello on Friday.

The Italian Gresini rider posted a time of 1m48.987s in the dying moments of the session to outpace championship leader Casey Stoner by 0.040 seconds.

Andrea Dovizioso made it three Hondas in the top three, with world champion Jorge Lorenzo the first non-Honda rider in fourth position on the Yamaha.

Team-mate Ben Spies, the winner of the previous race in Assen, completed the top five.

Local hero Valentino Rossi started his weekend on the back foot after his Ducati broke down with some 17 minutes of the session left, the Italian having to switch to his spare bike for the remainder of the session.

Minutes later, the Italian returned to the pits and was seen pushing the second bike down the pitlane. He finished down in 13th.

Dani Pedrosa made his return to action following his injury, having missed the last three races, and the Spaniard enjoyed a positive session, finishing in seventh position.

On a sunny day at the Italian track, Nicky Hayden was the early pace-setter before he was quickly relegated by Simoncelli, who jumped to the top of the times as he continued to show his strong form as of late.

Stoner moved to first place with 22 minutes left, becoming the first man to lap in the 1m49s. Simoncelli improved his lap time right after the Australian, but his time was only good enough for second, even though he was also in the 1m49s.

Both men improved their times on their following laps, with Stoner stopping the clock at 1m49.027s. Lorenzo then jumped up to second with less than 10 minutes to go, but was relegated to third by Dovizioso by two minutes left.

Simoncelli was the only man to lap in the 1m48s, the Italian going quickest when the clock was already at zero.

The field is down to 16 bikes this weekend after Pramac's Loris Capirossi was unable to ride because of his injury following a crash in the Dutch TT.

The team is expected to test Frenchman Sylvain Guintoli on Monday to assess him as a possible replacement in case the Italian can't race in the next event.

Pos  Rider                Team                       Time               Laps
 1.  Marco Simoncelli     San Carlo Honda Gresini    1m48.987s            21
 2.  Casey Stoner         Repsol Honda Team          1m49.027s  + 0.040   16
 3.  Andrea Dovizioso     Repsol Honda Team          1m49.088s  + 0.101   21
 4.  Jorge Lorenzo        Yamaha Factory Racing      1m49.251s  + 0.264   20
 5.  Ben Spies            Yamaha Factory Racing      1m49.364s  + 0.377   20
 6.  Colin Edwards        Monster Yamaha Tech 3      1m49.810s  + 0.823   19
 7.  Dani Pedrosa         Repsol Honda Team          1m50.104s  + 1.117   19
 8.  Nicky Hayden         Ducati Team                1m50.203s  + 1.216   19
 9.  Hiroshi Aoyama       San Carlo Honda Gresini    1m50.629s  + 1.642   21
10.  Alvaro Bautista      Rizla Suzuki MotoGP        1m50.658s  + 1.671   16
11.  Cal Crutchlow        Monster Yamaha Tech 3      1m50.683s  + 1.696   19
12.  Randy De Puniet      Pramac Racing Team         1m50.729s  + 1.742   19
13.  Valentino Rossi      Ducati Team                1m50.780s  + 1.793   13
14.  Hector Barbera       Mapfre Aspar Team MotoGP   1m51.153s  + 2.166   18
15.  Toni Elias           LCR Honda MotoGP           1m51.868s  + 2.881   19
16.  Karel Abraham        Cardion AB Motoracing      1m51.876s  + 2.889   18
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