Stoner topped Nicky Hayden's circuit record in practice at Phillip Island on Friday. Stoner topped Nicky Hayden's circuit record in practice at Phillip Island on Friday. Photo courtesy motogp.com

Injured Stoner leads at Phillip Island

Written by  on Friday, 26 October 2012 11:49

Repsol Honda Team’s Casey Stoner showed himself as the man to beat during the second free practice at the AirAsia Australian Grand Prix in Phillip Island on Friday with a dominant display ahead of Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo.

Stoner set the best lap time of 1:29.999, faster than the circuit record (Nicky Hayden, 1:30.059 in 2008), with Repsol Honda teammate Pedrosa in second position, 0.8 off the Australian hero with 1:30.884. Pedrosa aims to keep his current momentum and finish in front of Yamaha Factory Racing’s Lorenzo again to bring the fight for the championship to the last round in Valencia.

"It was a very positive first day. We were pretty quick to get on the pace and to be honest I didn't expect to achieve the lap times we did,” Stoner admitted. “With the extra horsepower we have this year it's a little easier to get around this place quickly!

“The times we were able to do in the first session were pretty good but I thought everybody would improve a lot more in the second session. But we were able to go quite a lot faster than everybody with almost race distance on our soft tires and then we put the hard tire on and were able to improve again.

“This is very positive at this stage of the weekend but we'll have to wait for tomorrow and Sunday to see where everyone else is. My ankle is in a lot worse condition than in Motegi but coming here, there are a lot less right hand corners, it's nice to take a bit of weight off it.”

Pedrosa enters this weekend’s race, the penultimate round of the season, 23 points behind Lorenzo with a race win worth 25 points.

"Fortunately, today we've had two dry sessions which was not expected and that's good at a circuit like this as the first day is important to find a good direction for the set up,” Pedrosa said. “I only tried the soft rear tire today, so tomorrow will be important to test the hard compound and some different ideas on the electronics and suspension to improve the feeling.”

Lorenzo’s crew worked hard to find better stability for the Championship leader as strong winds across parts of the track made it difficult to find a good pace.

“It’s been really tough so far today; the conditions are quite difficult,” Lorenzo explained. “It’s been really windy, which makes it very uncomfortable to ride. We are going to try and stay with Dani here and also Casey but he is very fast, he’s on another level at this track. I think we are close to Dani so our goal is to try and beat him.

“We’re going to try and make the bike more stable tomorrow to keep the wheels on the ground and make it more comfortable in the wind.”

Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow came in fourth, with the Brit doing extremely well to overcome flu type symptoms he has been experiencing since leaving Malaysia earlier this week. In fifth, his teammate Andrea Dovizioso had a solid day, though will have to find something extra if he is to take third spot in the championship off Stoner this weekend.

In sixth, San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista was on good form, seemingly finding some of the confidence in the bike he had two weeks ago in Motegi.

Seventh place went to his satellite counterpart Stefan Bradl, on his LCR Honda MotoGP machine, who was the last of the riders to be within two seconds of the top.

Ducati Team’s Valentino Rossi ended the day in eighth as top Desmosedici, although the Italian, who has won at this track five times in his career, will no doubt be looking for a lot more.

In ninth, his teammate Nicky Hayden was the only rider in the top 10 to not better his time in the afternoon practice session. Power Electronics Aspar’s Randy de Puniet completed the top 10, with the Frenchman not only finishing as top CRT, but also beating the satellite Ducatis of Pramac Racing Team’s Héctor Barberá and Cardion AB Racing’s Karel Abraham.

After a second Moto2 free practice session that was cut short by rain Tuenti Movil HP 40’s Pol Espargaró led the day ahead of Scott Redding and Tom Lüthi.

Espargaró was instantly on the pace in the second session, not taking long to post his fastest time of 1:34.578, the fastest of the day, before ominous clouds arrived with 20 minutes left and dumped a hefty spot of rain on the circuit. Marc VDS Racing Team’s Scott Redding retained second spot in the combined timesheets, despite only finishing in eighth in FP2. Interwetten-Paddock’s Tom Lüthi and Redding’s teammate Mika Kallio finished behind the Brit, also thanks to their times from the morning.

Seventh spot went to potential championship winner this weekend, Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol’s Marc Márquez, with the Spaniard’s team fortunate to have resolved an electrical issue, which stopped him from setting a time in the morning.

In the second Moto3 free practice Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3’s Jonas Folger went fastest in front of Sandro Cortese and Maverick Viñales.

--From motogp.com

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Last modified on Friday, 26 October 2012 11:57
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John Hopkins

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