Pedrosa edges Lorenzo in Japan practice
Dani Pedrosa edged championship points leader Jorge Lorenzo in free practice sessions on Friday ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix, stepping up his bid to overtake the fellow Spaniard for the title.
The factory Honda rider clocked 1min 46.088sec in the second of the day's two sessions to top the timesheets, just over one tenth of a second faster than Yamaha ace Lorenzo.
Italian Andrea Dovizioso, on a Tech 3 Yamaha, was the third fastest at 0.194 of a second behind Pedrosa, as sunshine drenched the 4.8-kilometre geometric Motegi circuit.
Pedrosa's Australian teammate and reigning world champion Casey Stoner, who missed the last three races after injuring his ankle while qualifying for the Indianapolis Grand Prix in August, clocked the seventh best time of 1:46.978.
Pedrosa appeared to keep the momentum going after winning the last race in Aragon, Spain, for his third victory in the last four GP rounds. Lorenzo was second at Aragon.
"Today was a perfect day for practice," he said. "The track conditions were very good. The warm temperatures helped as did the new surface, so we were able to do the job we wanted."
The 27-year-old Pedrosa, bidding for his first-ever title in the premier class, added: "The asphalt is new and the grip is quite good, so the lap times are pretty fast from the beginning."
Lorenzo, who has won six races so far this season against four for Pedrosa, is leading him by 33 points in his bid for his second MotoGP title.
He led the first session in the morning, with a 0.141-second gap over Pedrosa who beat him into second spot at the Japanese GP last year on Honda's home track.
"We started in a very good way here, much better than in Aragon where we had issues with the life of the rear tyre," Lorenzo said. "We have a very good pace and with a little change in the electronics were able to go a bit faster."
"The Hondas are very good here but our bike is also so I think we can fight with them for the victory."
The starting grid for Sunday's Japanese GP, the 15th leg of the 18-round championship, will be decided in the qualifying session after another free practice on Saturday.
The injury has ended two-time world champion Stoner's bid to retain the title before his retirement from Grand Prix racing at the end of this season.
He stands 104 points adrift of Lorenzo, and with four races to go in the season is unable to overtake him as the winner of each event collects 25 points.
"Of course I'm not feeling 100 per cent as it is, so I wanted to get a reasonable feeling with it before I start pushing," Stoner said.