Dani Pedrosa, the 20-year-old Spaniard, emphasised his championship ambitions by dominating the opening sessions of the British MotoGP here yesterday.
The Repsol Honda rider, who is in his first season on the 990cc MotoGP bikes, went fastest in the one-hour morning session and then cut nearly half a second from his previous best in the afternoon to lap the 2.5-mile circuit in 1m 28.970sec.
He beat Rizla Suzuki's John Hopkins by 0.055sec. Casey Stoner, the second 20-year-old rattling the old guard this season, finished third fastest on his LCR Honda.
"I'm not reading too much into this," Pedrosa said. "Saturday will be important because we'll learn more about the race tyre choice. We need to do a good job because the times at this track are so close.
"The Honda RC211V feels very powerful here, especially on the last part of the track. Plus we spend a lot of time braking, which is hard for the shoulders and arms - it's pretty tiring."
It was a day of mixed success for MotoGP's walking wounded. Loris Capirossi of Marlboro Ducati, who has twice led the championship this year, completed only 10 laps in the morning before retiring to save his strength for today's session.
"I will have painkilling injections for the race," said Capirossi, who is suffering from internal contusions in the chest following a massive tumble at Barcelona on 18 June. "I think I can take home some useful points. I still believe that I can win the championship."
The Italian Marco Melandri, suffering from pain in his right collarbone after the same crash, finished fourth fastest on his Fortuna Honda, from Kawasaki's Shinya Nakano and Colin Edwards on the fastest Yamaha.
Valentino Rossi, who is struggling to reduce a 46-point deficit, drifted his Camel Yamaha with typical verve on some corners, but the broken bones in his throttle hand slowed him on the more physical corners. He finished seventh fastest.
"After a few laps I start to lose a little power in the hand," Rossi admitted. "But I think it's possible to make a good race."
The championship leader Nicky Hayden finished ninth fastest and the outcome of the first day is that any of six riders could win the race: Pedrosa, Hopkins, Nakano, Stoner, Hayden or Edwards, the double world superbike champion who is desperate for a first MotoGP win after crashing on the last corner while leading last week's Dutch race.Reuse content