Pedrosa in front at damp Donington.

Dani Pedrosa set the fastest lap time during Friday practice for the 2009 British Grand Prix, held in drying conditions at Donington Park. 

    A heavy downpour during the previous 125cc session left the track soaking wet for the start of the session, but conditions slowly improved - helped by bright sunshine during the second half of the hour. 

    The improvement in weather was mirrored in the lap times, which plummeted during the final 15 minutes on what was a visibly patchy surface with an ever-extending dry line. 

    A switch to slicks looked tempting, but the 17-rider field ultimately played safe and stuck with wets, on which Pedrosa took the top spot from Casey Stoner on his 27th and last lap of the session. 

    Stoner, who only rode for 16 laps, wasn't even on track to defend his position, instead spending the final few minutes discussing set-up with his team in the Ducati Marlboro pit garage. 

    Double 2009 race winner Stoner, victor at Donington Park for the past two seasons, set a best lap time 0.245sec slower than US GP winner Pedrosa. 

    Third fastest was reigning six time MotoGP world champion and 2009 title leader Valentino Rossi, who set a best lap time 0.290sec slower than Pedrosa on the 25th of his 26 Friday laps for Fiat Yamaha. 

    Fourth was fellow Italian Andrea Dovizioso, completing a strong opening day for Repsol Honda with a late lap 0.442sec behind team-mate Pedrosa. 

    Jorge Lorenzo, who starts this weekend's tenth round 14 points behind team-mate Rossi, made occasional appearances at the top on his way to fifth (+0.478sec). Hayate's Marco Melandri, who used to live close to Donington Park, led the session with ten minutes to go, on his way to a solid sixth. 

    Seventh went to top rookie Mika Kallio (Pramac Ducati), eager to make up for his German GP disappointment in the final round before the summer break, while Colin Edwards (Tech 3), Toni Elias (Honda Gresini) and Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro) completed a top ten covered by 1.489sec. 

    Loris Capirossi was the lead Suzuki rider in eleventh for the British-based Rizla team, while the lone British rider in the field, James Toseland, was a frequent feature in the top six until dropping back to twelfth in the closing stages for Tech 3. Toseland made his way back to the pits on foot at the end of the session after running out of fuel. 

    Gabor Talmacsi enjoyed an encouraging start to his fifth MotoGP weekend in 13th place for Scot Honda, with rain master Chris Vermeulen an unusually low 14th on the second GSV-R. 

    Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda), Alex de Angelis (Gresini Honda) and Niccolo Canepa (Pramac Ducati) occupied the remaining practice places. 

    Rossi happy in 'strange conditions'. 

    MotoGP world champion and 2009 title leader Valentino Rossi was pleased to run towards the front throughout the constantly changing track conditions present during Friday free practice for the British Grand Prix at Donington Park. 

    The Fiat Yamaha star, who starts round ten 14 points clear of team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, battled with the Spaniard for P1 in the fully wet early session conditions, then claimed a close third on an almost dry track (but wet tyres) at the end of the hour.

    “These strange conditions are always hard to ride in but it was important that we had some time in the wet today because we were able to understand our level,” said Rossi. “We're quite happy because I felt confident and I was able to be fast today. 

    “The conditions changed a lot during the hour and by the end it was mostly dry, which meant it was quite hard to ride with the wet tyres but we were still quite fast and in the end we're third, which is a good start. 

    “We've got a few modifications to make as usual after a Friday but we have a good base. Tomorrow it seems it will be completely dry so hopefully by the end of the day we will be ready for Sunday, whatever the weather,” he declared.

    Rossi lapped 0.045sec slower than Casey Stoner (Ducati) and 0.290sec slower than Dani Pedrosa (Honda). Lorenzo was fifth fastest. 

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