News 24 Jul 2010

MotoGP: Casey Stoner leads Friday practice at Laguna Seca

Aussie Casey Stoner was fastest in Friday's practice at Laguna Seca.

Aussie Casey Stoner was fastest in Friday's practice at Laguna Seca.

Casey Stoner was over two-tenths of a second faster than Jorge Lorenzo, as he got within 0.021 of the Spaniard’s 2009 pole position time in the opening practice session at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix.

The Ducati rider found an immediately fast pace at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this afternoon as he took top spot on the timesheet Jorge Lorenzo just before the midway point of the first practice.

Stoner didn’t relinquish it as he lapped consistently fast for the rest of the session having switched bikes early on following some dissatisfaction with the set-up of his first machine.

Inside the final five minutes the Australian posted his best effort of 1:21.699, just two-tenths outside Dani Pedrosa’s race lap record, leaving him 0.233 clear at the top of the timing sheets.

“Today we tried a few different things with the setting because we still need to find a better feeling with the front and also we need to adapt the braking because there are a lot more bumps here in the braking zones than there were last year,” Stoner said.

“In general we have to be happy because we’re setting the pace at the moment but we have to continue this tomorrow.

“In a lot of races this season we’ve been fast on a Friday but not able to improve and lost ground to the others so we want to make sure that doesn’t happen here. I’m not looking to be first in practice, I would like to be first at the end of the race on Sunday.”

Fiat Yamaha rider and championship leader Lorenzo was the only other rider under the 1:22 mark, as he also made a fast start to his weekend with a best of 1:21.932.

Andrea Dovizioso was the highest placing Honda rider in the session as he took his factory RC212V around in a best time of 1:22.225, just over half a second off Stoner’s pace.

The Italian’s Repsol Honda colleague Pedrosa, who won last year’s race at the track, was fourth quickest at a further three-tenths down on his teammate’s time.

Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Ben Spies was the highest placing American rider in the session, the rookie – albeit riding on one of the few tracks he has experienced before – setting a best time of 1:22.640 towards the end to secure fifth.

Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha) was sixth and also the last rider within a second of Stoner, as the recovering Italian put in a best time 0.961 off that of Stoner’s.

Rossi hinted there may have been some slight pain from his injured shoulder, but that his leg was coping with the compression in the infamous Corkscrew downhill esses.

American duo Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) and Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech3) were seventh and eighth respectively, with Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini Team) and Aleix Espargaró (Pramac Racing) rounding out the top ten.

Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini Team) had a crash at turn three very early in the session but was uninjured and returned to the track to go 12th fastest.

Randy de Puniet’s substitute on the LCR Honda team Roger Lee Hayden was just under four seconds off Stoner in 17th as he took his first ride on the satellite RC212V.

Free practice continues for the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix from 9:55am local time on Saturday morning (GMT -7) with qualifying at 1:55pm.

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