Dutch MotoGP: Casey Stoner continues Dutch dominance in Assen
Casey Stoner ended the opening day at the Dutch MotoGP in Assen with the fastest time after another impressive performance in the second free practice session.
Quickest this morning, the 21-year-old continued his stunning form for Ducati’s factory team by posting a 1.37.828 on his 18th lap.
That was 0.212s faster than factory Kawasaki rider Randy de Puniet as Casey Stoner made the perfect start to his quest for a sixth win of the 2007 campaign in Saturday’s 26-lap race.
As is now customary this season, he immediately thrust himself to the top of the timesheets after just five minutes when he clocked a 1.39.294 on only his second lap, which was only a second slower than he’d managed when registering the best time this morning.
He had an off-track excursion just after the halfway stage but restored himself to the top of the timesheets with just eight minutes remaining when he clocked a 1.37.972.
That moved him just 0.068s clear of the impressive de Puniet, and on his next lap he posted his best of 1.37.828 to knock nearly half-a-second off his best time from this morning.
Casey Stoner’s late charge denied Randy de Puniet who finished with the second best time. His best of 1.38.040 came on his 16th lap of a 28-lap stint.
Former factory Aprilia 250 rider Randy de Puniet also ran off track, as did Loris Capirossi, Carlos Checa, Kurtis Roberts and Dani Pedrosa, but he first jumped to the top of the timesheets with just 18 minutes elapsed.
A 1.38.129 on his 16th lap put him 0.286s clear of seven-times world champion Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) and on his next lap he ran off track.
His best time came after 32 minutes which moved him 0.181s clear of Dani Pedrosa, with the Spaniard eventually finishing fifth. Dani Pedrosa ran off track twice, including one moment at the final chicane when he missed his braking marker in the closing stages.
Third fastest time went to the rapidly improving reigning world champion Nicky Hayden.
He jumped to the top of the timesheets for a brief moment after just nine minutes with a 1.39.135, which was immediately bettered by Randy de Puniet.
The American’s best time of 1.38.114 was logged with 17 minutes remaining, which had put him 0.074s behind de Puniet in second at the time.
The 25-year-old, who hasn’t claimed a top six finish yet in 2007, said: “I can see a little bit of light there at the end of the tunnel. Last year was really good and really fun. My motivation is not a problem.
“Once you get good results it’s hard to go back and struggle but this MotoGP game is not easy. It’s a tough game and people at home watching on TV telling the old lady to grab them a beer when they are sitting on the couch think sometimes it does look pretty easy.
“But I think MotoGP has never been more competitive in all my career between first and 15th."
Valentino Rossi logged the fourth best time but found himself 0.320s adrift of title rival Stoner. Rossi first jumped into the top three after 12 minutes when he posted a 1.38.648 that got the Italian to within 0.083s of veteran Brazilian Alex Barros.
On his next lap he was 0.218s up after the first three times sections and a 1.38.256 moved him just 0.039s clear of Alex Barros (Ducati).
Valentino Rossi was then 0.11s slower than his own best time through the first three splits on his next circuit but stretched his advantage over Barros to 0.150s with a 1.38.415. The 28-year-old eventually posted a best of 1.38.148.
Aussie Anthony West (Kawasaki) escaped injury when he crashed Kawasaki’s factory ZX-RR with 24 minutes remaining. He was 16th quickest at the time but ended the day overall 18th fastest with a best time of 1.39.751. That was marginally inside two seconds off compatriot Casey Stoner’s best.
MotoGP free paractice two results:
1 Casey STONER AUS DUCATI 1'37.828
2 Randy DE PUNIET FRA KAWASAKI 1'38.040
3 Nicky HAYDEN USA HONDA 1'38.114
4 Valentino ROSSI ITA YAMAHA 1'38.148
5 Dani PEDROSA SPA HONDA 1'38.221
6 Makoto TAMADA JPN YAMAHA 1'38.256
7 Colin EDWARDS USA YAMAHA 1'38.341
8 John HOPKINS USA SUZUKI 1'38.436
9 Shinya NAKANO JPN HONDA 1'38.444
10 Alex BARROS BRA DUCATI 1'38.485
11 Loris CAPIROSSI ITA DUCATI 1'38.600
12 Sylvain GUINTOLI FRA YAMAHA 1'38.650
13 Carlos CHECA SPA HONDA 1'38.733
14 Alex HOFMANN GER DUCATI 1'38.846
15 Chris VERMEULEN AUS SUZUKI 1'39.152
16 Marco MELANDRI ITA HONDA 1'39.259
17 Anthony WEST AUS KAWASAKI 1'39.751
18 Kurtis ROBERTS USA KR212V 1'40.835