Indy MotoGP: Casey Stoner shines in first practice

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Casey Stoner made a fast start to the Indianapolis MotoGP weekend this afternoon, the Aussie denying runaway 2010 series leader Jorge Lorenzo top spot at the end of a sun soaked opening practice session.

Using a new set of 2011 Ohlins front forks on his Ducati GP10 machine, the 24-year-old set his best time of 1.40.884 with 16 minutes of the session remaining.

That put him in front of Fiat Yamaha rival Lorenzo by a comfortable margin of 0.462s as the factory Ducati rider looks to end a winless streak stretching back nearly 11 months in Sunday’s Indianapolis race.

Spaniard Lorenzo, who is seeking an eighth win in 11 races this weekend, was only able to get within 0.225s of 2007 world champion Stoner’s time.

Lorenzo, who leads the world championship by a massive 77-points, ended with a best time of 1.41.109.

That easily secured him second place on the timesheets with home favourite Nicky Hayden claiming third place.

The Kentucky rider, who has never finished off the rostrum in Indianapolis, set a best time of 1.41.405 to finish 0.296s adrift of Lorenzo.

Hayden posted his best time with 14 minutes remaining but on his very next lap he crashed out.

The 2006 world champion lost the front of his factory Ducati GP10 and landed heavily on the left wrist he damaged in a crash during qualifying for the recent Brno MotoGP race in the Czech Republic.

Hayden chipped a bone in his wrist in that spill but didn’t appear to have aggravated the problem as he walked away from this afternoon’s tumble.

Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa was fourth fastest but a time of 1.41.421 left him 0.537s behind Stoner’s benchmark.

A late rally from Valentino Rossi pushed the reigning world champion into a respectable fifth place. The Italian, who is still well short of full fitness after breaking his right leg in Mugello in early June, ended with a  best time of 1.41.623.

That left him 0.739s off Stoner and the 31-year-old had languished down in ninth for much of the session.

Colin Edwards continue his revival with the sixth best time of 1.41.664 leaving the experienced Texan just 0.041ss behind Rossi.

Edwards had been as high as third place in the final 20 minutes on board the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1.

Team-mate Ben Spies had to settle for a lowly eighth place as his hopes of celebrating a move to Yamaha’s official factory team in 2011 were wrecked by a late crash.

Spies was a top three challenger throughout the session and was looking to improve on fifth spot when he lost the front-end of his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine.

He was unhurt and ended with a fastest time of 1.41.722.

Hiroshi Aoyama was back in action for the first time since he broke his back in a crash during the warm-up session for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in June.

Riding with a special corset to support his back when riding his Interwetten Honda machine, the Japanese rider logged a best time of 1.42.874. That was less than two seconds off Stoner’s pace and he beat a struggling Randy de Puniet by 0.113s.

The French rider could only post a best lap of 1.42.987 on the LCR Honda. It was only just over a month ago that de Puniet broke his left tibia and fibula in Germany.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt