MotoGP's points leader has staked a claim for being the motorcycle rider to beat in Sunday's Red Bull Indianapolis GP.
Australian Casey Stoner, who crashed out last year and called the 2.6-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course the worst in the series, sped to the top of the lap-time chart in this afternoon's practice session. The 2007 world champion turned a lap of 1 minute, 40.724 seconds on his No. 27 Honda.
Stoner surged to the top late to unseat American Ben Spies, the 2010 Indy polesitter and runner-up who had been No. 1 in today's morning practice session. Spies turned a lap of 1:40.918 on his No. 11 Yamaha.
The 28-lap Sunday race starts at 2 p.m.
Early on, riders complained about a lack of grip on the course's repaved areas. New asphalt was poured in June on the road-course infield area -- turns five through 16. But without sufficient tire rubber on the track, the bikes slid.
One of the early critics, defending series champion Jorge Lorenzo of Spain, adjusted from being ninth in the morning to fourth in lap times in the afternoon. The 2009 Red Bull Indianapolis GP winner is on the No. 1 Yamaha bike.
Last year's race winner, Spain's Dani Pedrosa, improved from 10th to third on the grid. He's on the No. 26 Honda bike.
American Nicky Hayden, the 2006 world champion, ranked eighth on a new No. 69 Ducati being used in its first race. Hayden was second at Indy in 2008 and third in 2009.
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