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MotoGP Indianapolis: Rossi leads first session at ‘new’ Indy

Valentino Rossi fastest during Free Practice 1 for the Indianapolis MotoGP.
CLICK HERE to view full Free Practice 1 results for the Indianapolis MotoGP.

Valentino Rossi led the way during MotoGP's debut at a revised Indianapolis road course on Friday morning.

The tight turns 3, 4, 7, 15 and 16 have been slightly opened up, with the entire infield section of the famous oval resurfaced and re-kerbed. The end result is a faster layout, with Rossi already 4.5s under the former race lap record, which technically no longer applies due to the reduction in circuit length.

World champion Marc Marquez led most of the opening practice session, with Rossi the only rider within one-second by the midway stage of the 45 minutes. The Italian icon then fitted the hardest rear tyre to topple the Repsol Honda rider with six minutes to go.

Pramac Ducati's Andrea Iannone briefly took over before Rossi returned his Movistar Yamaha to first place on his final lap.

Also saving his best for last was unsigned Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Bradley Smith, who made an excellent start to a crucial second half of the season by completing an M1 one-two, just 0.034s from Rossi. Iannone, recently announced as replacing Cal Crutchlow at the factory Ducati team in 2015, finished 0.044s from Rossi albeit on the soft (Open class) rear tyre.

Smith's team-mate Pol Espargaro overcame some early moments to slot into fourth meaning Marquez, gunning to extend his perfect season to ten wins on Sunday, was pushed down to fifth (+.0350s).

Fresh from announcing a new Yamaha contract, Jorge Lorenzo held third for much of FP1 before the late flurry left him sixth.

Rookie Scott Redding gave a perfect advert as to why he should be on Gresini's RC213V next year with seventh place, just 0.587s from Rossi, to be the top Open class rider.

That role usually goes to Forward Yamaha's Aleix Espargaro, who began the weekend in seventh, with Ducati riders Andrea Dovizioso and Yonny Hernandez rounding out a top ten covered by 0.966s.

With Nicky Hayden forced to watch from trackside due to recent wrist surgery, Colin Edwards will be the only American on the grid. The Forward Yamaha rider was a promising eleventh this morning on the FTR chassis.

Edwards is making his final US appearance before retirement, but the Texan's remaining schedule is unclear. Rumours suggest he may only appear at one or two more rounds, if any, with clarification expected later in the weekend.

Surprisingly, Marquez was the only RC213V rider in the top 13. Stefan Bradl, who will make way for Crutchlow at LCR Honda next year, was 14th. Marquez's team-mate Dani Pedrosa, locked in a close fight with Rossi for second in the standings, finished 16th and Bautista 17th.

Making his MotoGP debut in place of the injured Hayden at Drive M7 Aspar, Leon Camier unsurprisingly finished his first session on the RCV1000R in 23rd and last. The Englishman, who has raced in WSBK since winning the 2009 BSB crown, was 5.4s from Rossi and 1.6s from next closest Mike di Meglio (Avintia).

Free practice 2 takes place this afternoon.

Free Practice 1:
1. Valentino Rossi
2. Bradley Smith
3. Andrea Iannone
4. Pol Espargaro
5. Marc Marquez
6. Jorge Lorenzo
7. Scott Redding
8. Aleix Espargaro
9. Andrea Dovizioso
10. Yonny Hernandez
11. Colin Edwards
12. Cal Crutchlow
13. Hiroshi Aoyama
14. Stefan Bradl
15. Karel Abraham
16. Dani Pedrosa
17. Alvaro Bautista
18. Hector Barbera
19. Broc Parkes
20. Danilo Petrucci
21. Michael Laverty
22. Mike Di Meglio
23. Leon Camier

Tagged as: Yamaha , Valentino Rossi

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August 08, 2014 3:51 PM

Hopefully, Rossi topping the timesheets for FP1 is indicative of a closer weekend's racing. Nice work from Brad Smith too. He needs to get a result in the race though. He's done plenty of quick laps. I still can't get past the feeling that Marquez is just sitting back and not yet showing his hand. Nice to see them all at it again though!

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