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MotoGP Misano: Rossi draws first blood in opening session

Local hero Valentino Rossi delighted his home crowd in the opening MotoGP free practice session at Misano, topping the timesheets with a 1’33.451 but he was pushed hard by fellow Yamaha man Pol Espargaro, who took second place on 1’33.587 after leading with ten minutes left to run.

Rossi went out for his final run with medium front and hard rear Michelins, knocking Espargaro’s Monster-backed M1 off the top spot wioth a 1’33.605 and then increasing his lead with a 1’33.523 and then finished off with his quickest time.

Espargaro’s earlier 1’33.642 was already enough for second but his final lap cemented it and fended off a challenge from Silverstone winner Maverick Vinales as the Ecstar Suzuki rider ended in third place with a 1’33.7713, set on his 16th lap of 18.


Championship leader Marc Marquez came back from a small crash at turn ten, where he had been two-tenths faster than the quickest time at that point, to set a 1’33.729 while reigning champion Jorge Lorenzo slipped back from a top-three spot to fifth on a 1’33.744 - three-tenths behind his Movistar Yamaha team-mate.

Dani Pedrosa, on the second Repsol-backed RC213V, topped the session with 15 minutes remaining with a 1’33.786 but didn’t better that time and ended in sixth place, one ahead of Andrea Dovizioso. Ducati have tested extensively at the Italian circuit but it seems not to have paid huge dividends as team-mate Andrea Iannone crashed and was taken to the medical centre with a back injury after losing the front on the kerb at turn 13 and was then transferred to Cessna hospital for further scans.

Hector Barbera, on the satellite GP14.2, ended in eighth, one ahead of Cal Crutchlow while Scott Redding’s 1’34.034, was enough for tenth place but his Octo Ducati GP15 went pop right at session end. Aleix Espargaro finished in 11th with Stefan Bradl in 12th.

Alex Lowes, riding in only his second MotoGP event, finished in 18th place with a best of 1’34.923, 1.472s behind Rossi but had a load of laps cancelled for exceeding track limits as he finds his way around the track.

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