Assen MotoGP: Jorge Lorenzo on top in first practice

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Jorge Lorenzo’s domination of the 2010 MotoGP world championship continued at Assen today when he topped the opening practice leaderboard.

The Spaniard, who is chasing a fourth victory of the season in Saturday’s race, clocked a best time of 1.35.169 to edge out Casey Stoner’s factory Ducati GP10.

Stoner, who is hoping to end his podium drought this weekend having gone without a top three since last October, led the session for long spells.

He led by a massive 0.7s at one point but lost top spot to Lorenzo with just over 20 minutes remaining and the Fiat Yamaha rider was never deposed.

Stoner took second place with a best lap of 1.35.180 to finish well clear of 2006 Assen winner Nicky Hayden.

Hayden had struggled to break into the top six for much of the session but jumped into third place on the 24th lap of his 28-lap stint.

A best time of 1.35.686 left him 0.517s adrift of Lorenzo, who leads Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso by 37-points heading into Saturday’s 26-lap race.

Hayden, who has finished fourth in four out of the opening five races, was 0.506s behind Ducati team-mate Stoner.

American Colin Edwards enjoyed arguably his best session of a difficult 2010 campaign to finish in fourth position.

The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider, who has finished on the podium twice at the legendary Assen track, posted a best time of 1.35.699 to finish just 0.013s behind compatriot Hayden.

Dovizioso was fifth and a further 0.169s back on Edwards with factory Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa failing to threaten the top three in sixth place.

The Spaniard, who slumped to a dismal eighth place at Silverstone last weekend, finished sixth with a best time of 1.35.922 and showed no immediate sign of adding to his solitary 125GP victory in Holland back in 2002.

Aleix Espargaro threatened a major shock when he surged into the top four in the closing stages and the Pramac Ducati rider ended in a superb seventh place.

Ben Spies had to settle for eighth position after he too had held fourth place in the closing stages.

Spies, who scored his first premier class podium at Silverstone last weekend, ended with a best time of 1.35.942. That was 0.773s off Lorenzo’s best pace as he clocked his best time on his last lap.

Randy de Puniet could only finish in 11th despite a strong start that saw him occupy a place in the top two during the opening quarter of the hour-long session.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt