Barely a cigarette paper could separate Pedrosa from his teammate Casey Stoner in opening practice but in the afternoon session Pedrosa edged clear of his rival by 0.188s. The pair had an uninterrupted battle for the top times with the rest of the field, led by Jorge Lorenzo, 0.5s adrift.
The conditions in the afternoon session were perfect for the fans at the circuit but problematic for the riders with the 31C temperatures forcing each runner onto the harder compound tyre for the session. As a result of this, and windier conditions, it was impossible for the leading riders to improve on their opening session times.
As a result the leading time of the day still belongs to Stoner but this was an important session for Pedrosa; he ended Stoner’s reign as the fastest man in each session thus far in 2011. Whether he can keep the momentum going from this performance remains to be seen but the boost that this will give the hometown hero should not be underestimated.
Lorenzo struggled in the morning session and looked visibly upset by his performance in the afternoon. The reigning champion was more completive but he would have expected a much more competitive showing aboard the Yamaha. It will be very interesting to see if he can find the magic formula ahead of qualifying but it should be noted that he concentrated on longer stints in the morning session and completed more laps than anyone else in the afternoon as he looked to get an understanding of how the Bridgestone tyres reacted in the warmer conditions of Jerez rather than the night of Qatar.
Marco Simoncelli was fourth fastest in each session and the Italian continues to impress aboard his factory Honda. He ended the session 0.25s faster than his compatriot, Valentino Rossi. After setting the third fastest time in the morning much was expected of Rossi in the afternoon but the Ducati rider was almost one second off the pace, and facing stiff competition from Randy de Puniet for the honour of being the leading Ducati.
De Puniet was just 0.026s slower than Rossi and looks to be feeling no ill effects from his opening lap crash in Qatar. The Frenchman’s style aboard the Ducati is very reminiscent of Stoner’s in recent years and sees the bike move aggressively from corner to corner.
American’s Ben Spies and Nicky Hayden were the final riders within one second of Pedrosa with Hiroshi Aoyama and the superb Karel Abraham rounding out the leading ten runners.
Abraham had an action packed session that saw the rookie run off the circuit on two occasions and crash at the hairpin. Even so the Czech rider impressed everyone to outpace Colin Edwards and the factory Honda of Andrea Dovizioso. When Abraham was announced as a MotoGP rider there was a clear feeling that money had won out over talent but his performances at the end of last season in Moto2 showed him to be a talented rider. Today’s practice showing also illustrates that he is a very deserving MotoGP rider.
John Hopkins had an impressive day on his return to MotoGP with Suzuki. The American was just over two seconds off the pace but was faster than Toni Elias who continues to struggle to adapt on his return to the premier class. The Spaniard has looked ill at ease all winter on his Honda and his performances to take the inaugural Moto2 crown could be soon forgotten if he continues in this form for too much longer.
For full results from FP2 click here