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US MotoGP: Crutchlow leads opening Laguna Seca practice

Cal Crutchlow fastest during Free Practice 1 for the US MotoGP at Laguna Seca.
The on-form Cal Crutchlow set the pace during a cool and misty morning practice session for the US MotoGP at Laguna Seca.

The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider, who came within 1.6s of a first MotoGP win last weekend in Germany, snatched the top spot from Factory Yamaha's Valentino Rossi by 0.091s in the closing minutes of the session.

Crutchlow, who had a near miss with Randy de Puniet, set a best lap time 1.5s from the official race lap record.

Rookie title leader Marc Marquez underlined his quick-learning ability to claim third place and just 0.223s from the top, after his opening 23 laps of the tricky Californian circuit.

Injured Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa - like Jorge Lorenzo - was passed fit to return to action this morning, but skipped FP1 to avoid stressing the fracture in his shoulder from the Sachsenring.

Yamaha's reigning champion Lorenzo - who underwent a second round of collarbone surgery last weekend, after damaging the plate inserted to hold the original Assen breaks - waited until the halfway mark of the 45 minutes before venturing out.

Lorenzo reached a peak of eighth during a brief eight lap appearance, before being shuffled to eleventh (+1.684s).

Stefan Bradl led during the early stages on his way to fourth place for Honda LCR, with Gresini Honda's Alvaro Bautista and Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso all within 0.623s of Crutchlow.

Top CRT star Aleix Espargaro was seventh for Aspar, but over one second from the front and suffered a technical problem at the end of the session.

Double home winner Nicky Hayden began his last Laguna event as a factory Ducati rider in eighth, while Tech 3 Yamaha rookie Bradley Smith - who unlike Marquez has completed some road bike laps of the circuit - and de Puniet completed the top ten.

Andrea Iannone has been ruled out of the US round after dislocating his shoulder at the Sachsenring and is not replaced. The place of Iannone's long-injured Pramac Ducati team-mate Ben Spies is being taken by Moto2 rider Alex de Angelis this weekend.

de Angelis, who last raced at Laguna Seca for Gresini Honda in 2009, was 13th this morning (+2.376s).

American Blake Young is making his second wild-card appearance of the year with Attack Performance Racing. Young, 21st and last on his MotoGP debut in Texas, was again 21st (but out of 23 riders) in first practice.

Despite the tricky conditions, no riders fell.

Free practice 1:
1. Cal Crutchlow
2. Valentino Rossi
3. Marc Marquez
4. Stefan Bradl
5. Alvaro Bautista
6. Andrea Dovizioso
7. Aleix Espargaro
8. Nicky Hayden
9. Bradley Smith
10. Randy De Puniet
11. Jorge Lorenzo
12. Hector Barbera
13. Alex De Angelis
14. Yonny Hernandez
15. Karel Abraham
16. Hiroshi Aoyama
17. Danilo Petrucci
18. Colin Edwards
19. Claudio Corti
20. Michael Laverty
21. Blake Young
22. Bryan Staring
23. Lukas Pesek
Dani Pedrosa

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