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Stoner ups the ante on Saturday morning

Stoner ups the ante on Saturday morning

Casey Stoner posted the fastest time in the early Saturday session at Phillip Island, taking almost half a second off Valentino Rossi’s pace-setting lap from the previous day.

Casey Stoner turned the pressure back on Valentino Rossi with the fastest lap of the Iveco Australian Grand Prix second practice session on Saturday morning, in preparation for his home race on Sunday.

In contrast to Friday’s cool, calm conditions, Saturday’s session was preceded by spots of rain early in the day, and the wet weather intensified as the second practice session wore on.

However the track was dry enough at the start for Stoner to set the fastest lap of the hour-long session with a circuit of 1’30.626, shaving 0.408s off Valentino Rossi’s leading marker from the previous day. By the time the track had become coated in rain, the Ducati Marlboro man had decided to not risk taking his Desmosedici GP9 out for much longer on the slippery surface.

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) trimmed almost a full second off his best lap from the first session with a time of 1’30.674 to make him second fastest, while Rossi improved on his own standard by 0.131s, coming in 0.275s behind Stoner.

Rossi’s Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo suffered rear-grip and fitness issues on Friday which contributed to a late crash, but the Spaniard appeared to have made progress as he took 0.65s off his first session time to register a best lap of 1’31.427. Lorenzo was still almost a full second off Stoner’s lead however, and will seek further improvements ahead of qualifying to ensure he is competitive in Sunday’s race.

Alex de Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini), who recorded the fourth-fastest time on Friday was again up in the top five, making a marginal improvement on his lap from the first practice.

There was a bizarre incident for Hayate rider Marco Melandri, who posted the ninth quickest time of the session, when he hit a low-flying bird and managed to escape injury, while Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) suffered a tumble when he overran a corner.

The top ten was completed by Mika Kallio (Pramac Racing), Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda), Toni Elías (San Carlo Honda Gresini), Melandri, and Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro).


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