Casey Stoner continues US domination at final Laguna Seca practice

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Casey Stoner has continued his domination of the American GP to finish on top of the final practice timesheets at a cool and cloudy Laguna Seca this morning.

Stoner was quickest again in this morning’s third and final practice session with an incredible time of 1.21.461 coming in the closing seconds.

It left the Aussie a massive 0.707s clear of nearest rival Valentino Rossi and smashed his own pole position record by 0.8s.

Stoner, who was fastest yesterday with a best of 1.21.826, was again in charge for the majority of the session, which did start on time despite fears that heavy fog would force a delay to proceedings in unfamiliar California conditions.

Less than 20 minutes had elapsed when the Aussie seized control as he clocked a lap of 1.22.456 to move over half-a-second clear of early pacesetter Rossi.

Rossi managed to get to within 0.282s of Stoner in the final two minutes of the session with a best of 1.22.168, but Stoner hadn’t finished and his final lap saw him move his advantage out by another 0.5s

Stoner said: “We’re more confident than we were a year ago here. I think the package is definitely a step up. I’m feeling a lot better than even last year. It’d be nice to think we can keep it going as we have in these past races. So far, we’re pretty confident with the setting of the bike. It seems to be working well.”

Rossi, who signed a new two-year deal with Yamaha last night, was second as he beat surprise third placed Shinya Nakano by 0.175s.

The Japanese rider posted a best of 1.22.343 and was the last rider to get within a second of factory Ducati rider Stoner.

Aussie Chris Vermeulen was fourth quickest and just 0.225s clear of Stoner’s team-mate Marco Melandri as Bridgestone again dominated.

Best of a struggling Michelin bunch was home favourite Nicky Hayden in sixth place as he clocked a best time of 1.22.770. That was a massive 1.309s adrift of Stoner as Michelin is struggling badly having only hard compound tyres available, which simply aren’t working in the cooler conditions.

British rider James Toseland was left down in 15th place as he posted a best of 1.23.338, though he had been as high as sixth earlier in the session.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt