Casey Stoner dipped under the official Silverstone lap record during a sunny final free practice session for the British MotoGP, on Saturday morning.

Saturday's weather is supposed to be the best of the weekend, and - after Friday's rain showers - third practice took place in bright sunshine and blue skies, although air temperature was only 14 degrees.

Stoner, chasing his fourth victory from six RC212V starts and fastest in both the dry and wet on Friday, once again dominated the 45-minute session.

The Repsol Honda rider continued to enjoy a distinct advantage through the last part of the lap, with his rivals needing at least 0.3sec in hand heading into the final sector to threaten the Australian by the line.

That's exactly what Gresini Honda's Marco Simoncelli did with nine minutes to go, when he replaced the Australian on top of the timesheets with the best lap of the weekend so far.

Stoner responded with three minutes remaining, despite having to make a close pass on a slow-moving Nicky Hayden through the final turn.

That resulted in fist-waving and head shaking from the Australian. Former team-mate Hayden blanked him.

Stoner's best lap was a 2min 3.487sec, placing the 2007 world champion 0.233sec ahead of last weekend's debut pole sitter Simoncelli, with Factory Yamaha rider Ben Spies seizing third place (+0.455sec) on his final lap.

That pushed team-mate, world champion and 2011 points leader Jorge Lorenzo to fourth (+0.612sec), with rookie Cal Crutchlow continuing his impressive home weekend with fifth position for Monster Yamaha tech 3 (+0.827sec).

Stoner's team-mate Andrea Dovizioso was sixth and the last rider within a second of the top. Then came Hayden - the only rider not to beat his Friday time - Suzuki's Alvaro Bautista and Simoncelli's team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama.

Silverstone newcomer Valentino Rossi, twelfth and ninth on Friday, struggled to 14th place for Ducati this morning, 2.949sec behind Stoner.

By contrast Colin Edwards, riding one week after breaking his collarbone in Catalunya, slashed a massive 3.7sec off his best Friday time to claim a brave tenth place on the second Tech 3 bike.

Karel Abraham was the only faller, lowsiding from his Ducati in the opening minutes.

Although Edwards has returned to action this weekend, Dani Pedrosa is still sidelined by his broken collarbone, sustained in a clash with Simoncelli at Le Mans last month.

Rumours abound as to why Pedrosa's recovery has taken so long, with speculation of a training accident setting back his progress.

Silverstone returned to the MotoGP calendar last year and the 2011 event marks the debut of the circuit's new ?27-million Pits & Paddock.

Friday practice (3) - Silverstone:

1. Stoner
2. Simoncelli
3. Spies
4. Lorenzo
5. Crutchlow
6. Dovizioso
7. Hayden
8. Bautista
9. Aoyama
10. Edwards
11. de Puniet
12. Abraham
13. Barbera
14. Rossi
15. Elias
16. Capirossi


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