James Toseland lapped eighth-fastest in practice yesterday for the Catalunya MotoGP on his first visit here. Toseland is one of four rookies on this year's grid who have shredded the maxim that new boys need a two-year apprenticeship before they can challenge for the title.
On his 800cc Tech 3 Yamaha, the 27-year-old Yorkshireman was faster than the 2006 MotoGP champion, Nicky Hayden, the double world superbike champion Colin Edwards, the twice 250cc world champion Jorge Lorenzo – who crashed again after four laps of the afternoon practice session and may miss today's qualifying – and the ex-250cc champion Marco Melandri.
Toseland finished less than half a second behind the fastest lapper, the 22-year-old Spaniard Dani Pedrosa on the Repsol Honda. Loris Capirossi was second on a Rizla Suzuki and the championship leader, Valentino Rossi, was third on his Fiat Yamaha.
"I ran two laps of the track last night and watched last year's race here on a DVD," Toseland said. "I noticed that they were getting on the brakes just at the start of the kerb on the left-hand side of the track, at the end of the straight. That saved me time instead of having to work that out by myself."
The Britons in the 125cc class also impressed. Bradley Smith, 17, was eighth fastest and the 15-year-old Scott Redding finished 10th of 39 competitors. Danny Webb, 17, was 12th.
* John McGuinness yesterday reclaimed his "King of the Mountain" tag, by beating Australia's Cameron Donald to win the Senior Tourist Trophy crown in the Isle of Man TT.