Marco Simoncelli overcame two falls during Friday practice for the Australian MotoGP to finish third on the combined Phillip Island timesheets.

Both of the Italian's tumbles came at turn ten, but he was still the only rider in the top three to improve during the afternoon session.

The San Carlo Honda Gresini rider now aims to close the 0.437sec gap to Repsol Honda's Casey Stoner, whose title rival Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) was second on combined times.

"I had two crashes in turn ten today but luckily there was no damage to me or the bike," said Simoncelli.

"The track is wonderful, most definitely my favourite, but it is quite bumpy and it is easy to make a mistake and crash. It only takes a moment to find yourself on the floor so you have to stay focused at all times.

"Overall I am happy though because I was on the pace immediately this morning and improved my pace in the afternoon. Now we need to make some small changes and try to find more grip on the rear and a bit more feeling for the front, even though it is already good.

"The two crashes were different - this morning I lost the front and in the afternoon I lost the rear - but each time I knew why it had happened and I was able to get straight back on the pace. I am happy and calm, hopefully tomorrow we can close the gap to Stoner."

Simoncelli took his first MotoGP podium at Brno this year.

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