Casey Stoner led a top-seven covered by less than half-a-second during opening practice for the Catalan MotoGP at Barcelona on Friday morning.

The reigning double world champion, seen ragging his elbow across the kerbs early in the session, put his Repsol Honda on top of the standings with his twelfth of 16 laps.

Stoner's time of 1m 42.775s is less than half a second from the race lap record but only 0.1s ahead of team-mate Dani Pedrosa, who led much of the session. Another home Spanish hero, Jorge Lorenzo, was just 0.233s from the top in third place for Yamaha.

Related Articles

Lorenzo starts round five with an eight point led over Stoner in the championship. Stoner beat Lorenzo and Ben Spies to victory at Catalunya last season.

Tech 3 Yamaha's Cal Crutchlow, believed to have acquired a Brembo brake upgrade for this weekend, was the leading satellite rider in fourth (+0.407s), with Lorenzo's team-mate Ben Spies a fraction slower in fifth.

Rookie Stefan Bradl ran off track and dropped his LCR Honda on his way to sixth place, with Nicky Hayden the top Ducati rider in seventh (+0.471s).

Hayden is running the latest Ducati electronics, while team-mate Valentino Rossi - eleventh fastest (+0.762s) this morning - is also using the new aluminium swing-arm this weekend.

Hayden found the new swing-arm caused chatter during the team's recent Mugello test and is sticking with the carbon fibre design.

Between Hayden and Rossi on the timesheets were Karel Abraham (Ducati), Andrea Dovizioso (Yamaha) and Alvaro Bautista (Honda).

Randy de Puniet was the leading CRT rider in 13th place, 1.3sec behind the slowest manufacturer machine of Hector Barbera.

Catalunya long home straight could prove a struggle for some of the CRTs this weekend. de Puniet's Aspar Aprilia was the fastest privateer bike, 11km/h slower than Barbera and almost 28km/h slower than Rossi's GP12.

The slowest CRT, of Ioda's Danilo Petrucci, was 37.5kmh slower than Rossi.

Colin Edwards, making his MotoGP return after missing Le Mans with a broken collarbone, was 17st for Forward Racing (+3.9s).

After wet weather during the previous three events, MotoGP is hoping for its first full dry race weekend since round one in Qatar.

Thing's certainly began well - the Friday morning session taking place in bright sunshine and near 30-degree heat.

Friday practice (1):

1. Casey Stoner
2. Dani Pedrosa
3. Jorge Lorenzo
4. Cal Crutchlow
5. Ben Spies
6. Stefan Bradl
7. Nicky Hayden
8. Karel Abraham
9. Andrea Dovizioso
10. Alvaro Bautista
11. Valentino Rossi
12. Hector Barbera
13. Randy De Puniet
14. Aleix Espargaro
15. Michele Pirro
16. Mattia Pasini
17. Colin Edwards
18. Ivan Silva
19. James Ellison
20. Danilo Petrucci
21. Yonny Hernandez