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Page last updated at 17:15 GMT, Friday, 29 May 2009 18:15 UK

Matt Roberts' Mugello report

By Matt Roberts
BBC Sport at Mugello

Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi
Lorenzo (99) shows team-mate Rossi how it's done

World champion Valentino Rossi is chasing win number 99 this weekend but at the moment it looks more likely he'll be chasing bike number 99 on Sunday.

Jorge Lorenzo set a blistering pace in free practice on Friday, and the current championship leader showed no signs of flaking, crumbling or melting in the Tuscan summer sun.

Rossi has won his home race at Mugello for the past seven seasons but this could be his biggest test yet, with Lorenzo high on confidence and leading the championship after Rossi's last-place finish at Le Mans.

Add in the prospect of beating his team-mate in his own backyard, and Lorenzo's motivation could not be greater.

"Everybody wants to beat me but for some maybe it's more important to beat me here than anywhere else," Rossi told the assembled media at the press debrief after practice.

Ducati's Casey Stoner was third fastest, but is sure to be much quicker tomorrow, having spent the day focusing on back-to-back tests between the carbon swingarm Ducati introduced this season and the aluminium one from last year.

Both have different advantages and he was equally quick on both so the idea is merely to transfer the good points of the aluminium version over to the carbon.

He'll spend 15 minutes working on it on Saturday morning before focusing purely on race set-up.

On the other side of the Ducati garage, Nicky Hayden's nightmare continues, with the Kentucky Kid some 2.533 seconds off Stoner's meandering pace on what he told me afterwards was 'the most demoralising day of the season so far.'

Dani Pedrosa is fourth fastest and set a new record for the fastest-ever top speed in MotoGP, clocking 349.3kmh (217mph) down the long Mugello straight, according to the official timing system.

Rossi, who clocked 344.3, was not convinced.

"We know our bike is only doing around 330kmh, maybe 331. There is no way Dani is that fast! It's a mistake."

Expect even more disbelief should Lorenzo maintain his dominance through Sunday.

Italian MotoGP free practice times:

1 J Lorenzo (Spa) Yamaha 1 minute 49.87 seconds
2 V Rossi Italy, Yamaha, 1:50.065
3 C Stoner (Aus) Ducati, 1:50.144
4 D Pedrosa (Spa) Honda, 1:50.808
5 C Edwards (US) Yamaha 1:50.891
6 A De Angelis (RSM) Honda 1:50.898
7 L Capirossi (Ita) Suzuki 1:51.007
8 R de Puniet (Fra) Honda, 1:51.03
9 A Dovizioso (Ita) Honda 1:51.206
10 M Melandri (Ita) Kawasaki 1:51.359
11 J Toseland (GB) Yamaha 1:51.401
12 T Elias (Spa) Honda 1:51.823
13 C Vermeulen (Aus) Suzuki 1:51.994
14 N Canepa (Ita) Ducati 1:52.319
15 N Hayden (US) Ducati 1:52.403
16 Y Takahashi (Jpn) Honda 1:52.607
17 M Kallio (Fin) Ducati 1:52.619

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see also
Steve Parrish's MotoGP column
28 May 09 |  MotoGP
Lornezo secures pole at Mugello
30 May 09 |  MotoGP
Matt Roberts' MotoGP column
19 May 09 |  MotoGP
Lorenzo wins thriller at Le Mans
17 May 09 |  MotoGP
Matt Roberts' MotoGP column
05 May 09 |  MotoGP
Matt Roberts' MotoGP column
28 Apr 09 |  MotoGP
Matt Roberts' MotoGP column
14 Apr 09 |  MotoGP

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