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Stoner makes another good start at Laguna

Stoner makes another good start at Laguna

The first free practice session of the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix weekend took place in pleasant conditions today, with blue skies and comfortable temperatures at Laguna Seca - and World Championship leader Casey Stoner coming out on top of the timesheets yet again.

The first free practice session of the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix weekend took place in pleasant conditions today, with blue skies and comfortable temperatures at Laguna Seca - and World Championship leader Casey Stoner coming out on top of the timesheets yet again.

The Ducati rider aims for another good performance this weekend to maintain or extend his lead in the standings and he started out on the right foot in this outing, leading the way by 0.187s from second fastest participant Marco Melandri, of Honda Gresini. The young Australian notched a time of 1'23.410s on the 27th of his 30 practice laps.

The riders were halted when the session was red flagged due to a mid-practice incident on the notorious Corkscrew chicane, which saw Alex Hofmann struck by Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3's Sylvain Guintoli who had gone into the tricky section of the track too hot.

Hofmann's Pramac d'Antin colleague Alex Barros also ran off track at the Corkscrew later, but while he and Guintoli both continued their outings after their respective incidents Hofmann was taken away in an ambulance and was unable to continue. The German rider appeared to be holding his left wrist and in some discomfort – with the paddock now awaiting news on his state of health.

Just below Stoner and Melandri on the timesheet were American pair Colin Edwards (3rd) and John Hopkins (4th), the home riders demonstrating sound local knowledge to post pacey times as they both go in search of good results in front of the U.S. fans this weekend.

Edwards' Fiat Yamaha colleague Valentino Rossi was fifth quickest, meanwhile, the Italian five-time premier class title winner lapping just ahead of Hopkins' Rizla Suzuki team-mate Chris Vermeulen.

Kawasaki's Randy de Puniet completed a list of six riders who went round within a second of Stoner, but eighth fastest rider Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda) will look to up the pace in the second free practice later today as he was 1.106s behind the championship leading Aussie in this run-out.

Barros was ninth fastest, just ahead of World Champion Hayden's brother Roger Lee, the Kawasaki wildcard, who will be pleased to have finished in the top ten in his first proper MotoGP session on the Ninja ZX-RR – having briefly tested the ‘Team Green' machinery in Japan earlier this month.

Nicky's team-mate Dani Pedrosa, winner last weekend in Germany, will not have been overly happy to have seen two Haydens above him on the timesheet and will aim to be higher up than eleventh in the second Friday excursion later today.

Tags:
MotoGP, 2007, RED BULL U.S. GRAND PRIX, FP1

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