To impress on Misano return
Having missed the last race in the Czech Republic due to a neck condition, Honda Gresini's Marco Melandri was straight back on the pace in the opening MotoGP free practice session this morning at the Gran Premio Cinzano di San Marino e della Riviera
di Rimini - in difficult conditions at Misano.
After two weeks of recuperation, Melandri lapped fastest in the early outing to get his weekend off to a good start on the second World Championship visit to his native Italy this season, despite the storms on the Adriatic coast which saw the riders practicing on a wet track.
Melandri, who sampled the newly laid out Misano circuit recently on 600cc machinery and is still recovering from neck and ankle injuries, went round in 1'46.948s - a significant 1.684s quicker than compatriot Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha), who was second, and Casey Stoner (Ducati Marlboro) who was third despite an early lowside crash.
Stoner was just ahead of another Italian, his team-mate Loris Capirossi, on the timesheet, while Rossi's Yamaha colleague Colin Edwards, Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda), Randy de Puniet (Kawasaki Racing) and John Hopkins (Rizla Suzuki) all featured in the top eight.
Normally regarded as a wet weather specialist, Anthony West (Kawasaki Racing) was another lowsider, but still lapped ninth quickest, just in front of Alex Barros (Pramac d'Antin) who completed the top ten.
DORNA / CAPSIS International