MotoGP champion Casey Stoner and Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa led a damp opening free practice session at Valencia.
After a topsy-turvy session full of position swapping, Stoner resumed the usual order by putting in a 1m45.513s lap with five minutes to go, with Pedrosa joining him at the front a few minutes later, the Spaniard lapping 0.2sec slower. Until the late Honda surge, a variety of unusual names took advantage of the slippery conditions and appeared at or near the top of the times.
The Ducatis seemed happier in the wet, with works men Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden both leading the way for spells, and Pramac's Loris Capirossi also taking a poignant turn in front at the start of the final weekend of his racing career. Another underdog to hit the front was Toni Elias, the LCR Honda man twice leading the way.
When the times settled at the end of the session, Rossi, Hayden and Capirossi held third, fourth and fifth places, ahead of top Yamaha rider Ben Spies in sixth. Elias fell to eighth, behind Pramac's Randy de Puniet.
Hiroshi Aoyama was 14th on the sole Gresini Honda entered this weekend following the death of Marco Simoncelli at Sepang.
MotoGP debutant Josh Hayes, substituting for the injured Colin Edwards at Tech 3 Yamaha, beat factory test rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga – in for Jorge Lorenzo – to 15th.
The track remained consistently damp, with lap times only improving by five seconds through the course of the session. Despite the slippery surface the riders all stayed upright, with a trip through the Turn 1 gravel for Hector Barbera (Aspar Ducati) the only incident.
Pos Rider Team/Bike Time Gap
1. Casey Stoner Honda 1m45.513s
2. Dani Pedrosa Honda 1m45.736s + 0.223s
3. Valentino Rossi Ducati 1m45.828s + 0.315s
4. Nicky Hayden Ducati 1m46.073s + 0.560s
5. Loris Capirossi Pramac Ducati 1m46.108s + 0.595s
6. Ben Spies Yamaha 1m46.259s + 0.746s
7. Randy de Puniet Pramac Ducati 1m46.371s + 0.858s
8. Toni Elias LCR Honda 1m46.393s + 0.880s
9. Andrea Dovizioso Honda 1m46.402s + 0.889s
10. Cal Crutchlow Tech 3 Yamaha 1m46.581s + 1.068s
11. Alvaro Bautista Suzuki 1m46.922s + 1.409s
12. Hector Barbera Aspar Ducati 1m46.967s + 1.454s
13. Karel Abraham Cardion Ducati 1m47.079s + 1.566s
14. Hiroshi Aoyama Gresini Honda 1m47.581s + 2.068s
15. Josh Hayes Tech 3 Yamaha 1m48.037s + 2.524s
16. Katsuyuki Nakasuga Yamaha 1m48.382s + 2.869s