Stoner sets early pace in Turkey

Casey Stoner dominated Friday practice with his Ducati Desmosedici GP07 on the first day of activity for the Turkish Grand Prix, third round of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix (MotoGP). "We haven't changed the settings too much...

Casey Stoner dominated Friday practice with his Ducati Desmosedici GP07 on the first day of activity for the Turkish Grand Prix, third round of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix (MotoGP).

"We haven't changed the settings too much from Jerez, so obviously the team did the right things for this circuit. For sure we need to improve the bike before we get to the race but track conditions are going to change." said Stoner.

This morning's opening session was run in cool, damp conditions, but the weather improved substantially for this afternoon's outing, when track temperature reached 35 degrees. The Australian set 1:54.200 to comfortable lead over his teammate, Loris Capirossi, by 0.779 giving Ducati the 1-2 in Istanbul Park circuit.

Third place belong to John Hopkins, riding one of the Rizla Suzuki, at 0.862 from Stoner. Former world champion Valentino Rossi -- winner in round to at Jerez de la Frontera -- took best fourth with the Fiat Yamaha at 0.920.

Nicky Hayden, 2006 world champion, continue struggling with the Repsol Honda and the American was again well off the pace to end the session 14th -- more than two seconds slower than Stoner.

"That was really good, the last run was my first time on new tyres since I first went out this morning. We tried a different rear, so we've only used two rears from our selection and we've got another couple to try tomorrow. It would be nice if we can find an even better one. Everything seems pretty comfortable, pretty good at the moment", commented Stoner once the Friday activity was finished. a lot, so we don't know how our current settings will work by the time the race comes around. As always, we're trying to make the bike as perfect as possible, we need it to turn a bit better, with a little more traction and a little less pumping", added the Qatar Grand Prix winner.

Capirossi ended more than satisfied with his second spot, despite the gap with his teammate, because the Italian didn`t had a good season start giving just four points so far in the championship against the 36 that Stoner owns, with a victory included.

"We've worked really well on bike set-up so I'm enjoying riding again and that's good. We made some adjustments for more front-end feeling and I felt better with every lap, so we will continue working in this direction and I think I can improve even more. The first two races were quite demanding for me but now I'm back up front and that's important", expressed the 1998 250cc. World Champion.

About the Bridgestone tyres, Capirossi said: "They`re doing a great job. The front we are using here is a hard tyre and a bit difficult on the first lap, but after that it works really well. The rear is also hard but it's quite consistent over a lot of laps and that's encouraging. This morning the track conditions were really difficult but bit by bit they improved".

All four top speeds were recorded by Desmosedici equipped riders and Ducati Marlboro's Stoner found space to open the throttle and reach 298.6 km/h at one stage -- 6km/h quicker than the fastest non -- Ducati bike on track.

Hopkins, who completed 34 laps today, consistently improved his times throughout the day and has identified some alterations that he and his crew will be working on overnight to make the latest 800cc GSV-R perform even better for the qualifying tomorrow.

"I'm pretty pleased with how this afternoon's gone. I didn't get a lot of practice this morning as the track was too wet and really dirty. We got some good laps towards the end of the last session and we have found some things we can work on tonight that should smooth a couple of areas out. The weather for tomorrow looks like it's going to be good and we are really looking forward to the weekend", Hopkins expressed.

Rossi`s fourth place meant the best job for a Michelin bike in Turkey, a good feeling for Saturday as the Italian attempts to defend his leader conditions this weekend.

"The conditions today weren't ideal for us as the track was very, very dirty. However we're not in such a bad position in fourth and when you compare it to last year, when we had some serious problems here, things are much better and I can ride the bike very well, in fact I like the track a lot more with this bike! Stoner especially was very fast today and I think that tomorrow is going to be a hard battle for qualifying", Rossi commented.

With two podiums in Turkey, world champion Hayden will be looking for a significant step forward in tomorrow's free practice and qualifying sessions. In the slippery conditions the 25-year-old rider was searching for improved feel from the front of his RC212V today, on the new 800cc's first outing at the Turkish circuit, but the task was hard.

"The problem is just trying to get the front end to work for me -- getting it to steer and finding some confidence in it, especially around turns eight, nine and 10 -- the long, long left-hand corner. So the weekend hasn't started the way we wanted by any means and it's frustrating."

Activity will continue on Saturday with a free practice and the qualifying session (at 13.50, local time) looking for the top spot to start the Turkish Grand Prix.

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Loris Capirossi , Valentino Rossi , John Hopkins , Casey Stoner