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Stoner continues ferocious pace in third Laguna Seca practice session

Stoner continues ferocious pace in third Laguna Seca practice session

Casey Stoner further cut the circuit record at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Saturday morning.

Whilst pundits were predicting and rivals were hoping for a conclusion to Casey Stoner´s immense run of recent form at some point, the Ducati Marlboro rider appears to be simply using his previous performances to build yet more momentum.

After blitzing the field at Laguna Seca on Friday in both the first and second practice sessions, the MotoGP World Champion was once again the fastest on track in the opening Saturday session stateside – and once again by a considerable margin.

Stoner´s 1´21.461 time was nearly four-tenths of a second faster than his record time from day one in America, as he clocked the best lap ever recorded by a motorcycle at the track. The 22 year-old had been looking for improvement at the corkscrew and final corner, and seemed to have found it in the final few minutes of the session. With the qualifying tyres on in the final Saturday run, the question seems to have been changed to by how much - rather than if - Stoner will break the new record.

Fresh from penning a new two-year deal with Yamaha –announced on Friday night- Valentino Rossi was also looking for improvement in order to make up ground on Stoner. He cut five-tenths of a second from his previous best time at Laguna Seca, but was still some way down on his Australian nemesis. Seven-tenths of a second separated the Italian from the devastating last-gasp lap put in by Stoner.

Continuing to quietly impress, Shinya Nakano placed third onboard his San Carlo Honda Gresini machine in the morning run. The Japanese rider was in turn ahead of 2007 U.S. race podium finishers Chris Vermeulen and Marco Melandri in an all-Bridgestone top five, with Melandri in particular riding with a point to prove.

Yesterday´s second fastest man, Nicky Hayden was the quickest Michelin man once more in sixth. 1.309 down on the Australian frontrunner, the `Kentucky Kid´ will be hoping that the French qualifying tyres allow him to place on the front row as he aims for a third win on home soil.

Second Honda Gresini rider Alex de Angelis was seventh, ahead of fellow Laguna Seca debutant Jorge Lorenzo. Rizla Suzuki rider Loris Capirossi and JiR Team Scot´s Andrea Dovizioso completed the top ten, whilst Ben Spies continued to shave down his times on the third Suzuki GSV-R machine as he placed eleventh.

One rider missing from proceedings was title contender Dani Pedrosa. The Spaniard elected against riding his Repsol Honda RC212V in the morning session, having experienced a high amount of pain for precious little reward on Friday. If Pedrosa misses the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix on Sunday then it will be the first race that he has not started since the end of 2003, when he was forced out of the final 125cc contests of the year in Australia and Valencia with broken ankles.


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