German MotoGP: Stoner dominates crash-strewn opening Sachsenring MotoGP practice
MotoGP world championship leader Casey Stoner stamped his authority down early at the Sachsenring MotoGP this morning when he clocked the fastest time in a crash-strewn opening free practice session.
The Australian, who leads Valentino Rossi by 21-points going into Sunday’s 30-lap German MotoGP, finished a massive 0.686s ahead of surprise second place finisher Carlos Checa.
The session also saw reigning world champion Nicky Hayden, Alex Barros and Randy de Puniet all crash.
Nicky Hayden lost the front of his factory Repsol Honda RC212V at Turn 13 after 31 minutes but walked away unhurt to end the session seventh fastest.
French rider Randy de Puniet lost the front of his factory Kawasaki just eight minutes into the session but recovered to claim the sixth best time. Worst affected appeared to be Brazilian veteran Alex Barros.
He crashed at Turn 12 – the blind entry fourth gear downhill right-hander – and careered into the gravel with his right arm trapped under his D’Antin Ducati GP7.
Alex Barros walked away from the incident but upon removing his right glove he had a wound that was bleeding heavily and he has was taken to the circuit’s medical centre for immediate treatment.
Barros finished 14th fastest having only completed nine laps, but doctors confirmed he had not broken any bones in his right hand.
Ironically, team-mate Alex Hofmann is also riding with a right hand injury. The German broke his right hand when a friend accidentally trapped it in a car door last Saturday.
Alex Hofmann is riding with a metal plate and seven screws in his right hand and he was 15th quickest this morning.
The session though turned into a one-man domination from Ducati rider Casey Stoner.
In now customary fashion, Casey Stoner was fast from the off and he set the early pace with a 1.23.993. That was on only his fourth lap and his pace was evident as only Carlos Checa managed to break under the 1.24 barrier in the 60-minute session.
Only nine minutes had elapsed when he posted a 1.23.660 to jump 0.667s clear of Randy de Puniet before a 1.23.470 after 23 minutes moved him 0.735s ahead of Marco Melandri.
On his next lap he logged a 1.23.323 to move 0.882s clear of Marco Melandri. The Italian Gresini Honda rider reduced the gap slightly on his next lap but nobody could get within 0.7s of the untouchable Casey Stoner.
Only Carlos Checa did late on before rain showers hit the Sachsenring track as a 1.23.744 got the Spaniard to within 0.686s of Casey Stoner.
Stoner ended the session with a best time of 1.23.058 with main title rival Valentino Rossi adrift in eighth place, a massive 1.242s adrift of Stoner.
John Hopkins, who is to switch to Kawasaki’s factory team at the end of the season in a deal confirmed yesterday (Thursday), was third fastest but he was 1.027s off Casey Stoner’s pace.
Injured Spaniard Toni Elias’ replacement Michel Fabrizio was 17th fastest ahead Makoto Tamada and Kurtis Roberts.
MotoGP Free practice results:
1 Casey STONER AUS DUCATI 1'23.058
2 Carlos CHECA SPA HONDA 1'23.744
3 John HOPKINS USA SUZUKI 1'24.085
4 Colin EDWARDS USA YAMAHA 1'24.102
5 Marco MELANDRI ITA HONDA 1'24.177
6 Randy DE PUNIET FRA KAWASAKI 1'24.190
7 Nicky HAYDEN USA HONDA 1'24.200
8 Valentino ROSSI ITA YAMAHA 1'24.300
9 Sylvain GUINTOLI FRA YAMAHA 1'24.420
10 Anthony WEST AUS KAWASAKI 1'24.470
11 Dani PEDROSA SPA HONDA 1'24.476
12 Loris CAPIROSSI ITA DUCATI 1'24.686
13 Chris VERMEULEN AUS SUZUKI 1'24.709
14 Alex BARROS BRA DUCATI 1'24.941
15 Alex HOFMANN GER DUCATI 1'24.969
16 Shinya NAKANO JPN HONDA 1'25.572
17 Michel FABRIZIO ITA HONDA 1'25.854
18 Makoto TAMADA JPN YAMAHA 1'26.350
19 Kurtis ROBERTS USA KR212V 1'27.177