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Stoner sweeps practice Down Under

Casey Stoner fastest during Friday practice (2) for the Australian MotoGP at Phillip Island.
Casey Stoner utterly dominated the opening day of his final home Australian MotoGP at Phillip Island.

Riding in cool, cloudy conditions the soon-to-retire double world champion slid and spun the rear of his Repsol Honda mercilessly around the fast seaside circuit, dipping under the official race lap record to leave his rivals gasping to get within one-second of his best.

Leading the chase in FP1 had been MotoGP title leader Jorge Lorenzo, 0.905s from Stoner, with championship rival Dani Pedrosa then second by 0.885s to his team-mate in FP2.

Stoner, whose best time of 1m 29.999s was set on his 11th of 17 laps, set his quickest lap with the hard rear tyre. Lorenzo and Pedrosa seemed to prefer the softer rear. Stoner is seeking his sixth successive Phillip Island win at a track that named turn three in his honour on Thursday.

Lorenzo, who stands a fighting chance of being world champion on Sunday, finished third in the afternoon session, 1.006s from Stoner. The Yamaha star is currently 23-points ahead of Pedrosa with two rounds to go.

Cal Crutchlow (Tech 3 Yamaha), team-mate Andrea Dovizioso, Alvaro Bautista (Gresini Honda) and Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda) were covered by 0.335s in positions 4th to 7th, with Valentino Rossi the top Ducati rider in eighth and over two-seconds from Stoner.

Team-mate Nicky Hayden was one of only two riders not to improve in the afternoon, the American finishing ninth in FP2 and overall, with CRT rider Randy de Puniet using the flowing nature of the circuit to claim tenth in both sessions.

Satellite Ducati riders Hector Barbera and Karel Abraham separated de Puniet from team-mate Aleix Espargaro. Espargaro, the top CRT rider in the standings, was the other rider to lap slower in the afternoon and was left over one-second from de Puniet.

Lorenzo's team-mate Ben Spies is out for the rest of the season following shoulder surgery to repair damage sustained in last Sunday's Sepang fall.

Local rider Kris McLaren has been drafted into the Avintia Blusens squad in place of the injured Yonny Hernandez this weekend. McLaren rode as a wild-card in last year's Australian Moto2 Grand Prix and has raced in the Spanish CEV series this year.

McLaren was 8.2s off Stoner's pace after day one and will have to work hard to qualify for the race.

Friday practice (2):

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

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MM - Unregistered

October 26, 2012 7:38 AM

I rate the chance of Stoner following team orders, at around the same percent possibility that an Aussie would refuse a free lifetime supply of beer & BBQ.

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