Misano MotoGP: Casey Stoner fastest as Michelin fights back

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Reigning world champion Casey Stoner clocked the fastest time in this morning’s opening free practice session in Misano, with Colin Edwards leading a much-needed Michelin revival.

Stoner was in typically dominant form as he led for all but a few brief moments in a session run in gloriously sunny conditions.

And the Aussie, who trails Valentino Rossi by 50-points heading into Sunday’s 28-lap clash, denied Michelin a welcome tonic after the French factory’s nightmare recent run.

With talk of a one-make tyre rule hanging over the championship given Michelin’s shocking run of results, Stoner’s last lap of 1.35.422 denied American Edwards from clocking the quickest time right at the death.

Tech 3 Yamaha rider Edwards thought he had done enough to secure top spot when he posted a best of 1.35.424 in the dying seconds. But Stoner’s best lap saw him claim the best time by just 0.002s.

Stoner was in imperious form throughout, with only home favourite Rossi threatening his pace in the early exchanges. The closest the Fiat Yamaha rider got to Stoner though throughout was 0.066s when only 14 minutes had elapsed.

Edwards was head and shoulders above his Michelin counterparts, though Jorge Lorenzo was fourth quickest and Nicky Hayden an impressive sixth on his return from injury.

Gresini Honda rider Alex de Angelis was third fastest with a best of 1.36.145 but he was 0.723s adrift of Stoner, Lorenzo was a further 0.230s back with Rossi having to settle for fifth as he goes in search of equalling Giacomo Agostini’s record of 68 premier class wins on Sunday.

Rossi’s best of 1.36.464 was 1.042s behind Stoner.

Repsol Honda rider Hayden shrugged off the cracked bone in his right ankle to log a best time of 1.36.518, which easily overshadowed factory RC212V team-mate Dani Pedrosa.

Riding with a modified right boot, Hayden did get as high as third earlier in the session.

Pedrosa, who has been one of Michelin’s biggest critics recently, was a lowly 14th having only clocked a best of 1.37.380. That left the Spaniard a massive 1.958s off the pace.

British rider James Toseland was an encouraging ninth quickest as he posted a time of 1.36.740. That was 1.318s behind Stoner.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt