Assen Thursday: Stoner fastest, Elias breaks leg
Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner gained an early psychological advantage this morning in the first MotoGP practice session of the A-Style TT Assen, as he topped the timesheet by 0.046s ahead of title rival Valentino Rossi.
Meanwhile, Toni Elias suffered a crash which broke his left femur, as he slid off track on his 14th lap, with his Honda RC212V landing on his leg as he fell. The Catalan Honda Gresini rider was transferred to hospital for examination and treatment after the incident, which mirrors the first session accident at Assen last year that also saw him miss the 2006 Dutch TT. Looking to maintain or extend his surprise 26 point World Championship lead at the ninth round of the season this weekend Stoner made a good start as he recorded the session’s quickest time of 1’38.323s on the 15th of his 23 laps.
Second fastest participant Rossi aims to bounce back from his Donington disappointment and prevent Stoner from taking a sixth victory of the year - and the Italian was in a determined mood as he set his own best lap on the last of his 29 attempts this morning.
Putting in more laps than anyone else as always was World Champion Nicky Hayden who also notched his best time with his final lap – of 30 - when he went round 0.184s slower than Stoner’s pace setting time. Despite his Donington crash things appear to be on the up for Hayden who is finally becoming comfortable with his 800cc bike and the Kentucky Kid would love nothing more than a repeat of his 2006 Assen win to restore some confidence and pride in the build up to his home race at Laguna Seca next month.
Rossi’s Fiat Yamaha colleague Colin Edwards was fourth quickest, 0.416s off the pace, as he attempts to exorcise the demons of last year – the American having crashed on the final corner to hand Hayden the win.
Alex Hofmann of Pramac d’Antin completed the top five, while Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa (who ran off-track without consequences and finished sixth), Kawasaki’s Randy de Puniet (seventh), Hofmann’s colleague Alex Barros (eighth), Ducati’s Loris Capirossi (ninth) and Rizla Suzuki’s John Hopkins all made it into the top-10.
Pos Rider Bike Time Behind
1. Casey Stoner Ducati 1:38.323
2. Valentino Rossi Yamaha 1:38.369 + 0.046
3. Nicky Hayden Honda 1:38.507 + 0.184
4. Colin Edwards Yamaha 1:38.739 + 0.416
5. Alex Hofmann Ducati 1:38.894 + 0.571
6. Dani Pedrosa Honda 1:39.045 + 0.722
7. Randy de Puniet Kawasaki 1:39.139 + 0.816
8. Alex Barros Ducati 1:39.145 + 0.822
9. Loris Capirossi Ducati 1:39.327 + 1.004
10. John Hopkins Suzuki 1:39.483 + 1.160
11. Marco Melandri Honda 1:39.523 + 1.200
12. Toni Elias Honda 1:39.716 + 1.393
13. Chris Vermeulen Suzuki 1:39.930 + 1.607
14. Carlos Checa Honda 1:40.165 + 1.842
15. Makoto Tamada Yamaha 1:40.182 + 1.859
16. Sylvain Guintoli Yamaha 1:40.324 + 2.001
17. Anthony West Kawasaki 1:40.330 + 2.007
18. Shinya Nakano Honda 1:41.450 + 3.127
19. Kurtis Roberts KR 1:43.604 + 5.281