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Rossi fastest in Friday practice.

Reigning MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi broke Casey Stoner's 2009 domination on his very last lap of Friday free practice for the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi.

Stoner, fastest in all three 2009 pre-season tests and then all six track sessions at the Qatar season opener, once again looked set to dominate for Ducati - but Rossi, who wrapped up his sixth MotoGP title with a two-second victory over Stoner in last September's Motegi event, was able to nudge just 0.056sec under the Australian's best on his 18th and final lap.

Stoner, who ran off track after getting out of shape on the corner-entry bumps at turn one early in the session, finished the day with a 0.364sec advantage over Rossi's Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo - on pole at Motegi last season - while Chris Vermeulen and Loris Capirossi gave Suzuki the start it was looking for with fourth and sixth positions (+0.837sec and 1.435sec from Rossi).

Between the GSV-Rs was top satellite rider Colin Edwards, who worked his way steadily up the order for Monster Yamaha Tech 3.

Honda, which owns Motegi and will expect at least a podium finish (something an RCV could not achieve in Qatar) to mark the company's 50th anniversary of grand prix racing, made a slow start to the weekend, with new factory signing Andrea Dovizioso leading the manufacturer's challenge in seventh, almost one and a half seconds behind Rossi.

By contrast, Marco Melandri and the unofficial Kawasaki entry continued to exceed expectations, the Italian claiming an excellent eighth place for Hayate.

Toni Elias put his Gresini run factory Honda up to a late ninth place, just ahead of James Toseland - who made an encouraging start to the weekend by running top eight times for much of the session and holding off team-mate Edwards until six minutes to go.

Dani Pedrosa, who took his first Bridgestone podium in last year's race, clocked the eleventh best lap time on the second Repsol Honda, as he continues to regain fitness after last month's knee and forearm surgery.

Former team-mate Nicky Hayden, left battered and bruised by a huge qualifying highside on his Ducati debut at Losail, was twelfth fastest (+1.8sec from Rossi) with rookie Yuki Takahashi, the only Japanese rider in the premier-class field, making a late jump to 13th position for Team Scot Honda.



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Marc - Unregistered

April 24, 2009 6:54 PM

Racefan is a nub and a hopeless Stoner fanboby. His comment about Rossi needing to retire is out of pure jealousy. The twisted mentality of Stoner fans appears when they crown him the greatest rider ever when he only won one championship when all other teams didn't get the traction control, tire, and power formula correct. Last year Rossi beat him even with a bike that was still underpowered compared to the Duc. This year it appears that the Duc still has slightly more power and they've addressed the chassis issue. To early yet to tell who will be champion this year but I'm sure dilusional Stoner fans have given it to their boy already. Sad Sad Sad.

Racefan - Unregistered

April 24, 2009 10:22 AM

Would you for goodness sake all catch yourselfs on. No doubt if Casey gets pole tomorrow, it'll go the other way, Rossi is finished, may as well retire now, King Casey, and so it'll go on all bloody season. How about a look at the bigger picture. Rossi - one of the greatest ever, Stoner - challenger for the crown. In my opinion the effective score at the start of this year is one each, at the end of this year someone will have taken the lead. It's a truely epic battle that we're being treated to OVER THE SEASON!!!!! Sit back, soak it in, by all means comment on events as they unfold but could we please leave any sweeping conclusions untill the title is decided at least.



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