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Stoner dominates practice proceedings in Assen

Stoner dominates practice proceedings in Assen

Casey Stoner was three-tenths of a second quicker than the pole position record in practice for the A-Style TT Assen.

Casey Stoner continued his awesome form of the past week on the opening day of practice for the A-Style TT Assen. The reigning World Champion put on an absolute masterclass in both Thursday MotoGP sessions, in particular the afternoon run at the historic Dutch track.

A 1´36.087 lap, three tenths of a second faster than John Hopkins´ pole position record from 2006, was the latest demonstration of Stoner and Ducati´s potential to fight for victory at this crucial phase of the season. Even a brief wobble seemed not to faze the 22 year-old. At the `Cathedral of Motorcycle Racing´, thus far the Australian has been almost godlike.

Doing his best to keep up with his rival, Fiat Yamaha´s Valentino Rossi came closest to matching Stoner´s marker. The winner of last year´s Assen showdown in a breathtaking battle between himself and Stoner, current World Championship leader Rossi was seven-tenths of a second down on the fastest lap of the day. `Curious´ to see how his new Bridgestone tyres would fare in Assen, Rossi will be pulling out all the stops to get the best out of his 2008 package in tomorrow´s qualifying session.

Colin Edwards also managed to keep within a second of Stoner´s time, onboard the Tech3 Yamaha version of the M1 at a track where he has maybe his best chance of victory this season. The rider who prevailed in their 2006 duel, Repsol Honda´s Nicky Hayden, was just behind him in fourth place.

Alex de Angelis and Shinya Nakano trailed Hayden as the next fastest Honda riders, competing for the San Carlo Honda Gresini satellite outfit. LCR Honda man Randy de Puniet and Kawasaki´s John Hopkins also separated Hayden from teammate and title contender Dani Pedrosa in the combined practice classification.

Tenth placed Chris Vermeulen had a small run-off during the afternoon session, but his was a minor setback in comparison to that of Rizla Suzuki teammate Loris Capirossi. The returning veteran -absent from Donington with a hand injury- suffered a brutal highside that ended with the Italian nursing a cut forearm in the Clinica Mobile. He played no further part in the session, and his replacement in Britain Ben Spies is on-hand in the Netherlands should his services be required.


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