Stoner leads the way in Silverstone free practice

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Gordon Hatch, MotoGP Correspondent

Tale of two halves on day one at Silverstone with mixed weather conditions

Casey Stoner ended on top of the timing sheets during this afternoon’s free practice session ahead of the Hertz British Grand Prix at Silverstone with the Repsol Honda rider being closely followed by Yamaha Factory Racing rider Ben Spies and San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista despite the American and Spaniard both crashing this morning.

It would be nice if we get some better weather again tomorrow.

Casey Stoner

Day one at the British circuit lived up to the predictions of most weather forecasts and the day started off with a wet Free Practice session, which suited the Ducati Racing pair of Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden leading the way in the soaking conditions but as the wet weather subsided in the afternoon Stoner returned to his familiar position on top of the timing sheets setting a best time of 2m 4.791s with Spies on a lap of 2m 4.825s while Bautista close behind on a 2m 4.995s lap.

Hayden was quick this morning in the wet and also managed to maintain some of his pace to end up 4th fastest this afternoon on a time of 2m 5.353s with rookie Stefan Bradl close behind for the LCR Honda team setting a best lap of (2m 5.391s). Bradl was fast enough to finish ahead of Monster Yamaha tech rider Andrea Dovizioso in 5th (2m 5.448s) while Championship leader Jorge Lorenzo ended his first day in 7th place with a best lap of 2m 5.488s.

Home hero Cal Crutchlow sits in 8th place on the timing sheet today with a best lap of 2m 5.574s on his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine with Dani Pedrosa in 9th for his Repsol Honda team (2m 5.886s) and with Pramac Racing’s Hector Barbera the final rider in the top ten recording a best time of 2m 6.084s. Barbera was fast enough to finish one place ahead of Rossi who went from first this morning to 11th in the dry with the seven time MotoGP Champion registering a best lap in the of 2m 7.125s.

Ben Spies, Yamaha Factory Racing
Ben Spies, Yamaha Factory Racing

Photo by: Yamaha MotoGP

The best CRT machine came in the form of Randy de Puniet for the Power Electronics Aspar team with a time of 2m 7.893s good enough to secure 12th place on day one with San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Michele Pirro in 13th with a best time of 2m 8.535s while Mattia Pasini ended his first day in 14th for the Speed Master team (2m 8.975s). Finishing in 15th was Yonny Hernandez for the Avintia Blusens team after setting a best time of 2m 9.078s.

Power Electronics Aspar rider Aleix Espargaro finished in 16th on a best lap of 2m 9.379s while James Ellison sits in 17th for the Paul Bird Motorsport team on a best time of 2m 9.944s ahead of Danilo Petrucci (Came IodaRacing) on a best time of 2m 11.325s with NGM Forward Racing rider Colin Edwards in 19th (2m 11.600s) and Avintia Blusens rider Ivan Silva in 20th after setting a best time of 2m 12.737s. Cardion AB Motorsport rider is reportedly not going to take part in this weekend’s race.

Stoner is hoping for better weather tomorrow after today’s unpredictable conditions. He said, “We didn't learn very much from today. In the first session we tried understand the bike in the wet a little better, but it was gradually drying out throughout the session so it was difficult to take any real data. It was a similar situation this afternoon, we went out for a couple of laps and it started to rain, which destroyed most of the session.

We found the bike very hard to ride so we came in and made a change, which took a lot of time and we didn't manage so many laps. It would be nice if we get some better weather again tomorrow and this wind makes things very tricky, but everyone is in the same position. The chatter is a little better, we made another small improvement but we'll need to check it tomorrow in some more consistent conditions,” Stoner added.

Spies was happy with his performance and is positive about the upcoming qualifying session tomorrow. “Today was pretty good, although we didn’t get off to a great start this morning,” Spies said while adding, “I had a small mishap and crashed at T15. I’m happy enough though, even this morning in the rain I was very comfortable on the bike. We got a good dry session in this afternoon as well which is useful just in case we do have a dry race. The bike is working really well, it was pretty windy out there but we made the most of the 45 minutes to try a couple of things and we ended up going pretty quick.”

Alvaro Bautista, Honda Gresini
Alvaro Bautista, Honda Gresini

Photo by: Bridgestone Corporation

Bautista was upbeat despite his crash this morning saying, "We have made a good start here despite crashing this morning in very tricky conditions. We had the opportunity to try the bike in the wet and that was important for us because at Le Mans in similar conditions we didn't have any confidence with the bike. I felt a lot better with it this morning and I was running third before the crash. We'd made some changes to the bike and it felt even better so may the crash was me just pushing a bit too hard.

On the dry track in the afternoon we also did a good job even though track conditions weren't perfect and the wind was a real problem. Anyway, we managed to improve my confidence with the bike, especially over the bumps, which was a problem because the bike wasn't absorbing them very well. We gathered a lot of data that I'm sure will be useful tomorrow, when hopefully the weather is a little better.”

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Series MOTOGP
Tags bautista, featured, gresini, hatch, silverstone. honda, spies, stoner, yamaha