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Stoner stays clear in Phillip Island warm-up

28 October 2012

Casey Stoner lapped fast enough for pole position as he completed a perfect sweep of the pre-race track sessions for his final home Australian MotoGP appearance.

The soon-to-retire Repsol Honda star has been the only rider to break the 1m 30s mark this weekend, which he again dipped into on his fourth lap of the warm-up, held in warmer conditions than yesterday morning.

That 1m 29.888s was just 0.265s behind his pole time, but the session was not without incident for the Australian. Stoner ran off track after saving a big slide at the apex of MG and later ran a little wide at Honda hairpin, where he fell in qualifying.

But others had far bigger moments: Ducati's Valentino Rossi falling at the MG corner earlier in the 20-minute session, then kicking away debris in frustration, with wild-card Kris McLaren and Cardion AB Ducati's Karel Abraham also walking away from spills.

World championship leader Jorge Lorenzo, whose 2011 season ended when he lost the part of a finger during last year's warm-up, safely negotiated this year's session.

The Yamaha rider, who has qualified second on the grid, again separated the factory RCV riders after lapping 0.447s slower than Stoner and 0.294s ahead of title rival Dani Pedrosa.

Lorenzo's only problem appeared to be another stall after the session, while practicing a start.

Stoner, whose 2012 title hopes were ended by ankle injuries, will be chasing a sixth successive home win today, in his penultimate race before retirement.

Meanwhile Lorenzo, who holds a 23-point lead, will be crowned MotoGP champion for a second time if he can gain at least three points more than Pedrosa.

Marching his fourth position on the grid was Yamaha Tech 3's Cal Crutchlow, but half a second behind Pedrosa, with team-mate Andrea Dovizioso fifth and Honda LCR's Stefan Bradl sixth.

Alvaro Bautista was seventh for Honda Gresini, with Abraham the fastest Ducati in eighth, but over two-seconds from Stoner. Factory rider Nicky Hayden took ninth, just ahead of top CRT rider Randy de Puniet (Aspar), with Rossi left in twelfth place.

Like Stoner, Rossi has also taken five successive premier-class wins at Phillip Island, from 2001-2005.

Not helped by the fall, local rider McLaren, drafted into the Avintia Blusens squad in place of the injured Yonny Hernandez, missed his last chance to lap within the 107% time.

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.

Warm-up:

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


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