Stoner leads opening day at wet Phillip Island Despite a crash with no great consequences towards the end of the second MotoGP free practice session, newly crowned World Champion Casey Stoner was well in control of proceedings on Friday at the GMC Australian Grand Prix. On an overcast and somewhat windy afternoon at Phillip Island Ducati Marlboro’s Stoner repeated his morning trick of topping the timesheets to make a good start to his homecoming weekend.
Although Stoner was the only rider unable to improve on his morning time in the second outing, his afternoon lap of 1’312.86s was 0.154s slower than his best FP1 time but still enough to keep him ahead of second fastest participant Marco Melandri (Honda Gresini) by 0.269s.
Melandri by contrast had improved on his own morning best by more than four seconds, but was still 0.423s off Stoner’s early pace.
Behind the leading pair on the timesheet was Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa who lapped the Phillip Island circuit – where he has had mixed luck on previous visits - in 1’31.802s to leave him over half a second down on MotoGP’s latest champion overall.
Further down the timesheets Italian five-time former World Champion Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha) and Frenchman Randy de Puniet (Kawasaki Racing) were fourth and fifth respectively, with the top ten also including Alex Barros (Pramac d’Antin), Carlos Checa (Honda LCR), Loris Capirossi (Ducati Marlboro), Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda) and Anthony West (Kawasaki Racing).
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