June 30, 2006

Pedrosa quickest as Rossi picks up pace

By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - Honda's Dani Pedrosa dominated British
Grand Prix free practice on Friday while MotoGP world champion
Valentino Rossi showed he remained a contender despite his
broken hand.

Spaniard Pedrosa, second in the championship after eight
races, lapped quickest in both sessions with a best time of
1:28.970 in the afternoon at Donington Park.

American John Hopkins was second fastest for Suzuki with
Australian rookie Casey Stoner third on a Honda.

Rossi, who broke bones in his right hand and left ankle
after being thrown off his Yamaha in practice for last
weekend's Dutch TT at Assen, was less than half a second off
the pace with the seventh best time of the day.

He was also faster in both sessions than overall leader
Nicky Hayden, who was only ninth fastest after taking his first
victory of the season at Assen.

Kentucky-born Hayden leads the championship with 144 points
to Pedrosa's 102.

Ducati's Italian Loris Capirossi, still recovering from a
first-corner crash in Barcelona this month that sidelined team
mate Sete Gibernau with a broken collarbone, is third on 100
with Rossi fourth on 98.

Rossi's team mate Colin Edwards, the Texan who fell at the
final chicane at Assen just after he had grabbed back the lead
from Hayden, was sixth fastest in the session.

Rossi has always gone well at Donington, almost a home race
for the London resident, and the 27-year-old showman has won at
the Midlands track for the last two years.

"I have a lot of things to do to absorb the pain and help
the bone to heal," the Italian had said of his injury earlier
in the week. "For sure I will not be 100 percent.

"But if I am only 50 percent fit I believe I can still win
at Donington. It's like my second home."

Italian Michael Fabrizio returned to the MotoGP paddock as
a replacement for injured Spaniard Toni Elias at the Fortuna
Honda team. The 21-year-old lapped 15th fastest of the 18

Sunday's race is the ninth of the 17-race championship and
marks the start of the second half of the season.

Spain's Jorge Lorenzo, chasing his fifth win of the season,
took provisional pole in the 250cc category, lapping more than
half a second quicker than Alex de Angelis.

Lorenzo's Aprilia team mate and compatriot Hector Barbera
clocked the third best time on his return after missing two
races due to injury.

Spaniard Alvaro Bautista, leader of the 125cc standings,
was on provisional pole in that class ahead of Finland's Mika