New to motogp.com?Register here

Tickets purchase
VideoPass purchase

Stoner sets early pace

Stoner sets early pace

Three riders well in contention for podium places at the Sinopec Great Wall Lubricants Grand Prix of China were jostling for top spot on the timesheets in the first MotoGP practice session of the weekend.

Three riders well in contention for podium places at the Sinopec Great Wall Lubricants Grand Prix of China were jostling for top spot on the timesheets in the first MotoGP practice session of the weekend.

At a circuit with the longest straight in the World Championship Casey Stoner is one of the hot favourites to take victory at the fourth Grand Prix of the year onboard his Desmosedici GP07 - thereby extending his lead in the general classification - and he set down the marker in the opening run-out this morning.

The in-form Aussie star is looking for his third win of the season and he set the pace in the hour long practice run out, which commenced at 10am local time, with a lap of 2'01.538.

The Ducati Marlboro rider was 0.065s faster than John Hopkins who has also been in impressive form of late and appears to be well equipped with a solid package from his Rizla Suzuki team.

Never too far from the action, though in this case 0.512s off Stoner's hot lap, the ever present Valentino Rossi was the third fastest rider of the morning, while current World Champion Nicky Hayden lapped just 0.002s slower than the Italian as he finally produced some pace to match the pretenders to his crown in the 2007 season.

Hopkins' Suzuki colleague Chris Vermeulen lapped fifth fastest, while sixth on the timesheet was Loris Capirossi who recorded the top speed of the session of 326.2km/h, which was just 0.1km/h quicker than his team-mate Stoner had squeezed out of the Ducati machinery. Stoner's top speed was 12.6km/h faster than Rossi's, demonstrating the advantage he will have on the straights as the leading pair do battle for crucial World Championship points.

From Stoner's pace-setting lap down to the time of 11th quickest rider Toni Elias there was a gap of just 0.840s, again underlining the competitiveness of the new 800cc era, at the start of what promises to be another enthralling weekend of MotoGP racing.

Dani Pedrosa (8th fastest), Randy de Puniet (9th), Marco Melandri (10th) and Alex Hofmann (14th) all suffered off-track excursions but were not badly affected and in each case immediately rejoined the action.

Tags:
MotoGP, 2007, SINOPEC GREAT WALL LUBRICANTS GRAND PRIX OF CHINA, FP1

Other updates you may be interested in ›