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Stoner inches out Pedrosa in California FP3

Stoner inches out Pedrosa in California FP3

Casey Stoner topped the third practice outing of the Red Bull US Grand Prix, less than two hundredths of a second ahead of Dani Pedrosa at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca circuit. Jorge Lorenzo, who crashed spectacularly on the cool down lap though fortunately appeared unhurt, was third in the timings.

Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda) dominated most of the cold and foggy third session, staying just ahead of team mate Pedrosa with a best time of 1’21.806, to which the Spaniard followed suit with a fast lap of 1.21’823.

Despite the weather, which is typical for the coastal Northern California area this time of year, times started to dip below those set on Friday as early as 10 minutes into the 45 minute session, beginning with Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing) and Pedrosa. Times were aided because of the additional layers of rubber on the track thanks to the supporting AMA class practices, with the majority of the field running about half a second quicker.

But the big story of the third and final free practice outing was the highside of Lorenzo, who crashed following a practice start during his cool down lap. The bike tossed him into the air when the rear hooked up quickly after sliding out, then hit the Yamaha rider as he was sliding in the gravel. He was able to stand up and walk away after a few moments and was then assisted on to the medical center.

Steadily holding fourth place for the second session in a row is Marco Simoncelli, who posted a time of 1’22.222. The Italian was followed by Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing), who again ranked fifth in the field, posting a time one tenth of a second behind the San Carlo Honda Gresini rider. Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) was just behind the American with a lap of 1’22.356.

Ducati Team rider Nicky Hayden chose to ride the GP11 for the morning outing, finishing in seventh with a best lap of 1'22.432, while team mate Valentino Rossi on the GP11.1 machine trailed 0.215s behind the Kentuckian. The Ducati duo were followed by Álvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) who was on what appeared to be a fast lap until he nearly ran off the track completely at turn 11.

Héctor Barberá had a bit of trouble at the corkscrew, missing the line at the top and running it straight down the hill slightly out of control. The Spaniard was ninth in the session while Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) set a time of 1'23.062 ranked him tenth.

Next was Randy de Puniet (Pramac Racing) with Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) in tow, who has enjoyed learning the special circuit as evidenced by his smiles during garage stops and his wheelie-ing around the track. Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini), also still deep in the process of learning the track, followed in 14th.

The only rider of the session who was not able to better his times from the previous day was Toni Elias, who suffered a crash that posed a significant problem for him, as wildcard Ben Bostrom was riding his second bike. Fortunately the bike was not seriously damaged and he was able to return to the track before the end of the session, though he lost out on a significant amount of track time. Bostrom remains 18th in the timings, behind the Pramac Ducati of Loris Capirossi, though with each outing has improved between a half and a full second from the previous.

Karel Abraham also crashed halfway through the session, made his way to the garages to remount on his second bike, which stopped as he was exiting pit lane though he did make it back out into the practice session to place 15th in the field.

Tags:
MotoGP, 2011, RED BULL U.S. GRAND PRIX, FP3

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