Pedrosa quickest as Rossi contends despite injury

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 July, 2006, 12:00am

Honda's Dani Pedrosa dominated British Grand Prix free practice, while MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi showed he remained a contender despite his broken hand.

The young Spaniard, second in the championship after eight races, lapped quickest in both sessions with a best time of 1:28.970 in the afternoon at Donington Park.

'I think today was good; good weather with sunshine and the tyres worked very well. There was a good grip on the ground and that was perfect for us,' said Pedrosa.

American John Hopkins was second fastest for Suzuki with Australian rookie Casey Stoner third on a Honda.

Rossi, who broke bones in his right hand and left ankle after being thrown off his Yamaha in practice for last weekend's Dutch TT at Assen, completed a total of 43 laps with heavy strapping on his wrist.

He was still less than half a second off the pace with the seventh best time of the day and faster in both sessions than overall leader Nicky Hayden, who was only ninth fastest after taking his first victory of the season at Assen.

Kentucky-born Hayden leads the championship with 144 points to Pedrosa's 102.

Ducati's Italian Loris Capirossi, still recovering from a first-corner crash in Barcelona this month that sidelined teammate Sete Gibernau with a broken collarbone, was third on 100 with Rossi fourth on 98.

Rossi has always gone well at Donington, almost a home race for the London resident, and the 27-year-old showman has won at the Midlands track for the past two years. 'I'm happy to be riding again and enjoying myself on the bike,' he said.

'Assen was a very tough weekend for me but my physiotherapist has done a good job and I feel better, although still not at 100 per cent. I still have some pain, especially under braking, but the mobility is much better and this is important.

'There are three hard braking areas at this track where I am struggling and to be honest I don't know how this will be in the race,' said the Italian.

Rossi's teammate Colin Edwards, the Texan who fell at the final chicane at Assen just after he had grabbed back the lead from Hayden, was sixth fastest.