Estoril MotoGP: Casey Stoner dominates in Portugal

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Casey Stoner ended the opening day of free practice at the Estoril circuit in Portugal with the fastest time as Michelin duo Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa continued to post competitive times.

Stoner’s best time of 1.37.950 was marginally faster than his quickest lap this morning as he edged out surprise second place finisher Makoto Tamada in this afternoon’s second session.

Japanese rider Tamada set his best time of 1.37.989 on a Dunlop qualifying tyre, but he was still 0.039s adrift of Ducati’s Casey Stoner’s pace on Bridgestone race rubber.

Makoto Tamada emerged from nowhere with ten minutes remaining with a 1.38.171 on his first qualifying tyre getting him to within 0.221s of Stoner’s best lap.

Valentino Rossi briefly seized second back before Tamada went faster on his second qualifying tyre with just seconds remaining.

Tamada and Tech 3 Yamaha team-mate Sylvain Guintoli use qualifying tyres on Friday, as Dunlop are not restricted under the current 31-tyres limit like Michelin and Bridgestone.

After recent crushing defeats to rivals Bridgestone, Michelin though can at least take heart that a batch of new tyres first tested last week in Misano seem to have edged them closer to their Japanese rivals.

Tamada aside, Italian Valentino Rossi was fastest Michelin rider on race tyres as he set the third best time with a 1.38.120 in the final minute.

That left him just 0.170s behind Stoner, who could win the MotoGP world crown on Sunday if he scores 15-points more than Fiat Yamaha rival Valentino Rossi.

Factory Honda rider Dani Pedrosa also had an impressive session this afternoon, the Spaniard posting a best of 1.38.201 to slash 0.8s off his best this morning.

That was good enough for the third best time on races tyres. Dani Pedrosa had set the early pace when a 1.38.328 moved him to the top of the timesheets after just nine minutes.

That put him 0.293s clear of Casey Stoner. The Aussie then quickly reduced the gap to just 0.131s before Dani Pedrosa then clocked a 1.38.219 after 12 minutes to move 0.217s ahead of Kawasaki’s Randy de Puniet.  Pedrosa ended up just 0.081s behind Valentino Rossi.

Frenchman Randy de Puniet eventually clocked the fifth best time to edge out fellow Bridgestone rival John Hopkins (Suzuki), while reigning world champion Nicky Hayden (Honda) found himself down in eighth place. The American was eighth quickest this morning too and in the second session ended up 0.663s behind Casey Stoner.

Biggest surprise was the disappointing performance of Valentino Rossi’s factory Yamaha team-mate Colin Edwards. The American was fourth quickest this morning but slumped to 13th this afternoon as he failed to better his time.

He clocked a 1.39.050 and was the only rider who didn’t go faster this afternoon.

Spaniard Carlos Checa paid the penalty for a late blunder. Fourteen minutes remained when the LCR Honda crashed for the second time today.

He slipped down the rankings to 12th fastest having been sixth when he crashed out. He escaped injury.

Estoril MotoGP free practice two results:

1 Casey STONER AUS DUCATI 1’37.950
2 Makoto TAMADA JPN YAMAHA 1’37.989
3 Valentino ROSSI ITA YAMAHA 1’38.120
4 Dani PEDROSA SPA HONDA 1’38.201
6 John HOPKINS USA SUZUKI 1’38.471
8 Nicky HAYDEN USA HONDA 1’38.518
9 Alex BARROS BRA DUCATI 1’38.613
10 Sylvain GUINTOLI FRA YAMAHA 1’38.630
11 Chris VERMEULEN AUS SUZUKI 1’38.655
12 Carlos CHECA SPA HONDA 1’38.669
13 Anthony WEST AUS KAWASAKI 1’38.723
14 Shinya NAKANO JPN HONDA 1’38.761
15 Toni ELIAS SPA HONDA 1’38.843
16 Marco MELANDRI ITA HONDA 1’38.919
17 Colin EDWARDS USA YAMAHA 1’39.050
18 Alex HOFMANN GER DUCATI 1’39.117
19 Kurtis ROBERTS USA KR212V 1’42.227


Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt