Pedrosa tops Practice in Jerez

Dani Pedrosa

Dani Pedrosa topped practice in Jerez

Wildcard Dani Pedrosa sensationally topped the times in Friday’s first practice for the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez.

After Miguel Oliveira had set the early pace on the RNF Aprilia, Pedrosa put in a fast lap to move to the top spot on the RC16.

The factory Red Bull KTM test rider, who retired in 2018 after competing in MotoGP for 12 years, last rode in a one-off race in Austria at the Styrian GP in 2021, finishing 10th.

A 31-time MotoGP race winner, former Repsol Honda star Pedrosa finished as the championship runner-up three times and third a further three times during his glittering career.

As the pace quickened in the final 10 minutes of the session, Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) exchanged places at the summit of the leaderboard before Jorge Martin dipped under the 1:37s bracket on the Pramac Ducati.

However, 37-year-old Pedrosa had the final say as he produced an excellent lap on the KTM to set the morning benchmark in 1:36.770s.

Martin held onto second, 0.034s adrift, with Japanese rider Nakagami third fastest, 0.274s down on Pedrosa.

Luca Marini (VR46 Ducati), Espargaro and Red Bull KTM’s Brad Binder completed the top six.

Gresini Ducati’s Alex Marquez was seventh ahead of Aussie Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM) and 2022 champion Francesco Bagnaia (Lenovo Ducati), while Maverick ViƱales (Aprilia Racing) was next as the top 10 were covered by six-tenths of a second.

Alex Rins, who won in Texas last time out, was 12th on the LCR Honda behind Pramac Ducati’s Johann Zarco.

Oliveira finished 13th with championship leader Marco Bezzecchi in 14th on the VR46 Ducati ahead of Repsol Honda’s Joan Mir and Honda wildcard Stefan Bradl.

Monster Energy Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo was down in 18th, with team-mate Franco Morbidelli in 20th.

Factory Ducati rider Enea Bastianini, out since fracturing his shoulder after Marini hit him in the Sprint race at Portimao, was 22nd on his return.

Team HRC World Superbike rider Iker Lecuona, replacing the injured Marc Marquez in the Repsol Honda team at Jerez, was last of the 24 MotoGP riders, 3.7s off Pedrosa’s time.

KTM test rider Jonas Folger is in action again this weekend and was 23rd fastest on the GASGAS Tech3 KTM, with Pol Espargaro still absent after suffering multiple injuries in a crash in Portugal at Portimao.

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