Stoner dominates first free practice at Le Mans

Friday, 18 May 2012

Following his retirement announcement, Repsol Honda Team’s Casey Stoner showed no signs of slowing down at the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France at Le Mans, finishing the first morning session fastest ahead of teammate Dani Pedrosa.

In overcast, yet dry and cool conditions, most riders headed out for the first free practice on soft tyres to get ready for the fourth round of the MotoGP™ championship this season. Stoner set the quickest time of 1.34’321 to lay down an early marker ahead of Pedrosa, who was a full half second behind.

Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso was on the pace early on, as he went third quickest just under a tenth behind Pedrosa, in front of Yamaha Factory Racing’s Ben Spies in fourth, who will be looking to get his season back on track this weekend with a good result.

In fifth, Pramac Racing Team’s Héctor Barberá was the surprise inclusion on-board his satellite Ducati. He finished ahead of Spies’ teammate Jorge Lorenzo, who will be seeking a marked improvement to challenge for the win on Sunday.

Seventh spot was occupied by Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow, who managed to oust San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista into eighth, whilst the top ten was rounded out by Ducati Team pair Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi. Rossi, who has stated that he plans to stay in MotoGP until at least 2014, will be looking for some similar form to last year, where he scored his only Ducati podium at the French track.

Highest CRT finish went to local Power Electronics Aspar rider Randy de Puniet, while Chris Vermeulen, who is replacing the injured Colin Edwards at NGM Mobile Forward Racing, finished the session last in 21st.

Aspar’s Aleix Espargaró crashed out of the session with 30 minutes to go, while San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Michele Pirro came off with 25 minutes left in Museum corner. Both riders managed to get back out on track towards the end of the session.

TAGS France

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