Dani Pedrosa rolled back the years by emerging a shock fastest of all in Practice 1 for the Spanish MotoGP, round four of the 2023 MotoGP World Championship at Jerez.
Considered one of MotoGP’s greatest racers, Pedrosa hasn’t competed full-time since retiring at the end of the 2018 season in favour of taking up a test and development role with the KTM Factory Racing team.
However, for this weekend he will make his second wild-card appearance with the Austrian manufacturer as a prelude to taking part in a one-day test on Monday.
To mark the occasion - around a circuit he knows so well he even has a corner named after him - Pedrosa powered to the fastest in the closing stages with a superb 1m 36.770secs lap.
Proving he’s lost none of his speed, Pedrosa had been in or around the top spot all morning before punching in his best lap, which was enough to unseat Pramac Ducati’s Jorge Martin from the top spot, the two Spaniards well clear of the opposition as the only riders to break into the 1m 36s.
Having been overshadowed by his LCR Honda team-mate Alex Rins last time out at COTA, Takaaki Nakagami took centre stage for the Monegasque team, posting a series of fast laps to wind up in third place, ahead of Luca Marini (VR46 Ducati) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing).
In a strong start to the event for KTM, Brad Binder was up the order in sixth place, while team-mate Jack Miller was eighth best, the two RC16 riders sandwiching Gresini Ducati’s Alex Marquez in seventh.
With scorching temperatures forecast to rise this afternoon for the Q2-determining P2 session, the fight to get into the top ten in P1 was more noticeable, with just four tenths covering third down to 12th.
With this in mind, Pecco Bagnaia looks safe in ninth despite maintaining a low profile on the factory Ducati, while Maverick Vinales - who spent the session practising his troublesome start procedure - teeters on the edge in tenth aboard the second of the Aprilia RS-GPs.
Riders with work to do this afternoon, however, include Johann Zarco in 11th, COTA winner Rins in 12th and RNF Aprilia’s Miguel Oliveira.
In the context of the anticipated front runners, championship leader Marco Bezzecchi could only manage the 14th fastest time, while Fabio Quartararo didn’t attempt a time attack, thus leaving him at risk in 18th.
Elsewhere, Enea Bastianini returned to the track following his spell out with injury, though didn’t complete many laps with reports from the Ducati Corse pit garage suggesting he is finding the going tough with his recently-healed shoulder.
Also, Iker Lecuona made his official return with Repsol Honda but was slowest of all, almost four seconds off the pace.
CLICK HERE for full Practice, Qualifying and RACE Results from the 2023 Spanish MotoGP
2023 Spanish MotoGP Practice 1 Results | Jerez
|2023 Spanish MotoGP | Jerez, Spain | Practice 1 Results | Round 4 of 20|
|1||Dani Pedrosa||ESP||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM RC16||1m 36.770|
|2||Jorge Martin||ESP||Prima Pramac Racing||Ducati GP23||1m 36.804|
|3||Takaaki Nakagami||JPN||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||Honda RC213V||1m 37.044|
|4||Luca Marini||ITA||Mooney VR46 Racing||Ducati GP22||1m 37.053|
|5||Aleix Espargaro||ESP||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||1m 37.090|
|6||Brad Binder||RSA||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM RC16||1m 37.097|
|7||Alex Marquez||ESP||Gresini Racing MotoGP||Ducati GP22||1m 37.138|
|8||Jack Miller||AUS||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM RC16||1m 37.262|
|9||Pecco Bagnaia||ITA||Ducati Leonovo Team||Ducati GP23||1m 37.388|
|10||Maverick Vinales||ESP||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||1m 37.389|
|11||Johann Zarco||FRA||Prima Pramac Racing||Ducati GP23||1m 37.432|
|12||Alex Rins||ESP||LCR Honda Castrol||Honda RC213V||1m 37.487|
|13||Miguel Oliveira||POR||CryptoData RNF Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||1m 37.633|
|14||Marco Bezzecchi||ITA||Mooney VR46 Racing||Ducati GP22||1m 37.682|
|15||Joan Mir||ESP||Repsol Honda Team||Honda RC213V||1m 37.850|
|16||Stefan Bradl||GER||Team HRC||Honda RC213V||1m 37.902|
|17||Raul Fernandez||ESP||CryptoData RNF Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||1m 38.055|
|18||Fabio Quartararo||FRA||Monster Energy Yamaha||Yamaha M1||1m 38.073|
|19||Fabio di Giannantonio||ITA||Gresini Racing MotoGP||Ducati GP22||1m 38.104|
|20||Franco Morbidelli||ITA||Monster Energy Yamaha||Yamaha M1||1m 38.106|
|21||Adrian Fernandez||ESP||GasGas Factory Tech 3||KTM RC16||1m 38.278|
|22||Enea Bastianini||ITA||Ducati Leonovo Team||Ducati GP23||1m 38.931|
|23||Jonas Folger||GER||GasGas Factory Tech 3||KTM RC16||1m 39.545|
|24||Iker Lecuona||ESP||Repsol Honda Team||Honda RC213V||1m 40.509|