By: Gordon Hatch, MotoGP Correspondent
- Repsol Honda's Stoner sets fastest time
- Simoncelli continues to be fast
- Lorenzo best non-Honda rider
Stoner on top at Silverstone Free Practice on a cold, wet Friday
Casey Stoner got off to the best start possible at this weekend’s MotoGP AirAsia British Grand Prix at Silverstone where he topped both Free Practice Sessions in chilly conditions in the morning and then in the wet in the afternoon when the heavens opened. While the track began to dry in the afternoon session, the best times were set in Free Practice 1.
The Repsol Honda rider swapped positions a number of times with reigning MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo and his Factory Yamaha YZR-M1 and stalking both of these was San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Simoncelli who continues to improve on his RC212V but in the end the Australian had enough in reserve to end up on top with a best time in FP2 of 2m 15.666s.
While Lorenzo was third fastest in FP1 and fifth in FP2 it was Simoncelli who followed Stoner into second in both sessions with the Italian losing none of his drive despite the recent media spotlight on him and his racing manouvres, one of which led to Dani Pedrosa breaking his collarbone at Le Mans.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro) surprised the paddock in today’s two practice sessions after finishing the morning session in fourth and then going one better in the afternoon in third position giving the 2006 champion something to smile about despite the gloomy British weather.
British rookie Cal Crutchlow went very well in both sessions today and finished in a very satisfying fourth place in the afternoon and sixth in the morning session. The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider will not only be motivated by the fact that this is his home race but also coming from a double win in last year’s Superbike World Championship.
Lorenzo was followed into sixth place by Andrea Dovizioso in the afternoon session with the Italian ending fifth fastest in the morning. Dovi will be looking to put in another solid performance on front of his Repsol Honda crew who are without Pedrosa this weekend. With much talk of rider contracts for 2012 Dovi will be determined to impress.
Finishing the afternnoon in seventh position was the second of the factory Yamahas in the form of Ben Spies who has seen a return to form after a number of lack-lustre performances. Spies managed to maintain his average speed through both sessions and with new-found conifidence in his YZF-M1.
Finishing the day in eight place was Czech rider Karel Abraham on his Cardion AB Motoracing Ducat GP11 finishing both of today’s sessions on front of seven time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi who was only feeling his way around the Bristish track today because the Italian has never raced here – Rossi’s broken leg coincided with the return of Silverstone to the MotoGP Calendar last year.
LCR Honda’s Toni Elias put in a strong effort to end the afternoon session in 10th while in the morning session when it was dry he was stitting in 14th. Elias finished ahead of Alvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) this afternoon but the roles were reversed somewhat in the morning with Bautista breaking into 9th in the morning.
Pramac Racing’s Loris Capirossi worked hard for his 12th spot in the afternoon to finish ahead of Hector Barbera (Mapfre Aspar) who slipped down the timings in the wet conditions despite ending the morning session in 8th. Randy de Puniet (Pramac Racing) finished the day in 14th and the Frenchman also dropped four places in the afternoon session.
Japan’s Hiroshi Aoyama ended his first day in 15th place on his San Carlo Gresini Honda with a best placing of 13th this morning. Aoyama finished three seconds ahead of Colin Edwards who returns to action this weekend despite breaking his collarbone at the previous round in Catalunya – amazinlgy Edwards, who actually wanted to race last weekend but was turned down by Race Direction, managed to take part in both sessions today despite being nearly ten seconds adrift of Stoner.