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Lorenzo leads at wet and wild Phillip Island

15 October 2010

Newly crowned MotoGP world champion Jorge Lorenzo dominated Friday free practice at a wet and wild Phillip Island in Australia.

The session was delayed by several hours due to surface water and mud on the track - and conditions weren't much better when the green light was finally given.

Battered by wind, rain and an air temperature of just 10 degrees, few could blame Ben Spies when he elected to remain in the pits for the first 15 minutes.

Spies later joined his rivals on track for a few laps, at a circuit he made his victorious WSBK debut at in 2009, but returned swiftly to the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 pits and was ultimately last on the timesheets.

By contrast, Spies' 2011 team-mate Lorenzo, now free from the pressure of a title fight, enjoyed a two-second advantage in the early stages.

Casey Stoner, winner of his home round for the last three seasons, then trimmed that down to 0.6sec by the halfway point of the hour, after which a dry line began to develop on track.

Stoner's Ducati team-mate Nicky Hayden was the first to get within half a second of Lorenzo, before Stoner regained second.

Although the Australian was just 0.334sec behind the Yamaha rider, Stoner was unable to bridge the gap in the final twelve minutes - as conditions edged ever closer to needing slicks.

Hayden likewise remain third (+0.6sec) on the patchy track, with rookie Marco Simoncelli a strong fourth for San Carlo Honda Gresini.

Team-mate Marco Melandri, who won the first 'bike-swap' MotoGP race at Phillip Island in 2006, was the final rider within one-second of Lorenzo.

Repsol Honda's Andrea Dovizioso - runner-up at the last two rounds - was sixth, while team-mate and former title contender Dani Pedrosa, returning to MotoGP action exactly two weeks after fracturing his collarbone at Motegi, lapped a cautious ten seconds off the pace before calling it a day before the halfway mark.

Valentino Rossi, who won his second race of the season - and first since breaking his leg at round four - last Sunday at Sepang began one of his favourite events with seventh place.

Colin Edwards (Tech 3) , Randy de Puniet (Honda LCR) and Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki) completed the top ten.

Mika Kallio, riding in what looks like being his last MotoGP event before being replaced by Carlos Checa for the last two rounds, recorded the eleventh best time for Pramac Ducati.

Poor weather is also forecast for Saturday, but may improve for Sunday. MotoGP has not had a wet race so far in 2010.

Australia is the last of three flyaway events, in three weeks.

Friday practice:

1. Lorenzo
2. Stoner
3. Hayden
4. Simoncelli
5. Melandri
6. Dovizioso
7. Rossi
8. Edwards
9. de Puniet
10. Capirossi
11. Kallio
12. Aoyama
13. Barbera
14. Bautista
15. Espargaro
16. Pedrosa
17. Spies


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