Stoner heads incident-packed Indianapolis first free practice

Friday, 17 August 2012

Repsol Honda Team’s Casey Stoner got out of the blocks quickest as the MotoGP™ grid headed out for its first free practice session at the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix in front of Dani Pedrosa and Nicky Hayden.

The majority of riders initially headed out on track slightly gingerly as a few damp patches from earlier rain were still visible, however within ten minutes all riders had descended on the circuit for their first stab at the Brickyard. And it was Stoner who was the pace setter with a 1.41’925, marginally ousting his teammate Pedrosa into second, who also looked in ominous form. Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden, for whom this is a home-race, wrung the neck of his Desmosedici to finish third.

Fellow compatriot Ben Spies on the Yamaha Factory Racing machine came in fourth in front of his local crowd, finishing ahead of LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl, who was over a second off the time set by Stoner. Behind him was fellow Honda satellite rider, San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista, in sixth, who is hoping to resolve some front-end grip issues he has been experiencing. Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow came in seventh, despite suffering a crash early on in the session. The Brit was unhurt, and was able to continue the session on his second bike.

Yamaha’s championship leader Jorge Lorenzo had a subdued practice, finishing uncharacteristically low in eighth. He spent the final few minutes in his garage, seemingly unhappy with the set-up of his bike. Ducati’s Valentino Rossi ended the morning in ninth, while Pramac Racing Team’s Héctor Barberá came in tenth. Barberá, who was riding just 27 days after breaking his left tibia and fibula, suffered a heavy highside in the session, causing it to be red flag for a short while. He was taken straight to the medical centre where he was sighting chest and back pain, in particular in his vertebrae, which he had previously damaged very badly in a crash in Japan in 2008. He has been taken to Indianapolis Methodist Hospital for further checks.

CTR wildcards, Attack Performance’s Steve Rapp and GPTech’s Aaron Yates, finished 20th and 23rd respectively.

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