Stoner cleans up in Saturday practice
Casey Stoner has completed a clean sweep of the practice sessions for the MotoGP class at the IVECO Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, topping the timesheets on Saturday morning at Phillip Island.
The Australian set his session-best lap of 1min 30.550secs with three minutes remaining in the 45-minute session, and a late run on softer tyres saw the Honda rider produce five consecutive laps that were quicker than the best managed by reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo, whose Yamaha trailed Stoner by 0.640secs at the end of the session.
Stoner leads Lorenzo by 40 points in the championship with three races remaining, and will be looking to cement a fifth consecutive win at home in Sunday’s 27-lap race.
Stoner’s Honda teammate, Spaniard Dani Pedrosa, was the only other rider to finish within a second of Australian’s blistering pace, ending the session 0.915secs off top spot.
Italian Marco Simoncelli (Honda) finished fourth after falling at Turn 10 for the third time in as many sessions this weekend, while Lorenzo’s teammate Ben Spies (Yamaha) rounded out the top five.
Stoner’s dominance – the Australian has now topped the timesheets at Phillip Island for the past eight on-track sessions dating back to first free practice last year – was evident when he took top spot just before the halfway mark of the session with a 1:31.279 on the harder Bridgestone tyre, a spectacular lap that featured several sideways moments at Turn 3 and across the top of Lukey Heights at Turn 9.
Lorenzo chipped away, narrowing Stoner’s advantage to 0.034secs before the Australian put an exclamation mark on his dominance when he switched to the softer, qualifying-spec rubber.
Stoner’s first flying lap on the faster tyre lopped half a second off his previous best time, and he continually lowered the benchmark thereafter in an ominous display ahead of Saturday afternoon’s one-hour qualifying session.
Australia’s other participant in the premier class, Aspar Ducati stand-in Damian Cudlin, had a spectacular high-side on his first flying lap at Turn 4 and took no further part, finishing in 17th and last spot.