Stoner sets Friday pace for German GP

Australian rider Casey Stoner showed the way on day one of activity for the tenth round of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix (MotoGP), the German Grand Prix that takes place at Sachsenring circuit. Stoner, the standings leader...

Australian rider Casey Stoner showed the way on day one of activity for the tenth round of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix (MotoGP), the German Grand Prix that takes place at Sachsenring circuit.

Stoner, the standings leader in the chase for the championship, was the only rider able to break the 1m23s barrier and clocked 1.22:737 on his 17th of the 27 laps he used in the second practice session of the journey.

"We seem to be pretty quick straight out of the box, we've not had to change too much with the bike. The team is doing a great job because we seem to be doing it pretty easy so far. Yet again, there's no big straights in this track but the Ducati is showing how good it is on these tight and twisty circuits. We knew it'd be okay here because the bike has been fine at other tight tracks, like Donington and Le Mans. It's really performing well at every circuit, so long as we do our job right, the bike seems to perform", Stoner commented.

About the performance of the Bridgestones tyres, always a major issue these days, the Aussie said: "The Bridgestones seem good here, we've used a softer rear and a harder rear, and we're doing pretty similar lap times with both tyres. I've already done a few long runs, now we just need to see what the weather does for tomorrow and get some more laps on the tyres. We'll have to wait and see what happens if it does get hotter, this new surface seems pretty abrasive so it might improve with the heat or get worse".

This afternoon's session was run in warm conditions following some light rain showers this morning. Latest weather forecasts suggest a much hotter weekend with temperatures predicted to reach 35 degrees on Sunday. The top three places ended as they are in the current standings, with Ducati Marlboro`s Stoner being followed by Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa with the Yamaha and the Honda, respectively.

Rossi set 1.23:083 in his best shot after 31 laps during the afternoon session to finish 0.346 adrift Stoner. "This morning we had some problems when the temperature was lower, especially with the front tyre which takes a lot of stress around this track. Towards the end we found a better front tyre but then it started to rain a bit so I couldn't go any faster. "Anyway this afternoon was much better and I feel like we have the bike well balanced."

Further away in the finish of the day was the Spaniard Pedrosa, who`s best lap time of 1.23:366 put him 0.629 from the top of the classification. "We made some good progress today and finished by increasing the pace quite a lot which is positive. This afternoon I was able to put in a run of around 14 laps and steadily improve the lap time - and I think I could have gone even quicker on my last laps if I hadn't encountered some traffic."

"Casey Stoner is looking very fast though and seems to have quickly found a good set-up so we must work really hard to move things forward for tomorrow. The new surface here has made it better in some places, but there are some new bumps too", the Spaniard added.

The next three riders on the timesheet all lapped within 0.064s of Pedrosa, a good performance from French MotoGP rookie Sylvain Guintoli in the Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3, leaving him fourth overall, right in front of Carlos Checa, in the Honda LCR, and Marco Melandri, riding the Honda Gresini.

In spite of a spectacular morning crash and some subsequent stitches in a resultant hand injury, Pramac d`Antin rider Alex Barros concluded the day as seventh fastest, in a top ten classification completed by Colin Edwards, John Hopkins and Randy de Puniet.

The podium gained in Assen that put him back in the top places seemed to be hard to repeat today for the current world champion. Nicky Hayden ended just 16th fastest and was the only rider that could not improve his morning lap time, despite using 30 laps in the afternoon.

And at the end, Honda apologised to Hayden due to the bad start today for the German Grand prix that had him suffering electrical problems and a spectacular engine failure.

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