MotoGP world championship leader Casey Stoner set the pace at the end of the opening day of practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway today.
For the majority of the day it looked like home favourite Ben Spies would finish fastest, with the Texan clocking a best lap of 1.40.918 to lead into the final minutes of the second 45-minute session.
But Repsol Honda rider Stoner produced a brilliant late burst of speed to seize top spot with a quickest time of 1.40.724.
That put the 2007 world champion 0.194s clear of Spies, who was a further 0.287s clear of Spaniard Dani Pedrosa in third position.
Lap times in the second session plummeted after the entire MotoGP field heavily criticised the resurfaced infield section between turns five and 16 this morning.
Although the new tarmac had got rid of several big bumps, the track was slippery and the pace this morning was well over two seconds behind Dani Pedrosa’s best in the 2010 Indy clash.
But with more rubber laid down by the 125GP and Moto2 field, times were much faster in the second session and Stoner’s best pace was almost three seconds quicker than his time in first practice.
Reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo was fourth fastest, the factory Yamaha rider slashing nearly four seconds off his best time from this morning.
Andrea Dovizioso was fifth, with Colin Edwards once again the top non-factory rider in sixth place on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine.
Edwards posted a best time of 1.41.699 and the 37-year-old was the last rider to lap within a second of Stoner.
Compatriot Nicky Hayden was a low-key eighth as he prepares to make his race debut on Ducati’s GP11.1 Desmosedici. The 2006 word champion ended with a best time of 1.41.789 to finish 1.065s behind Stoner.
Hayden though outpaced team-mate Valentino Rossi again, with the Italian struggling down in 11th place. Rossi finished with a best time of 1.42.406 to finish over 0.6s back of Hayden.
British rider Cal Crutchlow knocked over two seconds off his best time this afternoon to end with a fastest pace of 1.43.085. That put the 2009 World Supersport champion in 15th position on the leaderboard but less than 0.7s away from the top 10.