Stoner on Top in Donington

Henny Ray Abrams | June 20, 2008
DERBY, ENGLAND, JUNE 20: Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner was the stand-out rider in the first practice session for Sunday’s British Grand Prix at Donington Park in the British East Midlands.

The reigning world champion lapped the 2.5-mile circuit with a time of 1:28.979 mins. The lap was best by over half a second, but well off the 1:27.676 best lap of Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa from 2006.

Stoner set his best time on the 23rd of 25 laps.

Today’s work may not be rewarded. Rain is forecast for Saturday with light rain on Sunday.

Until the final seconds of the hour the top five riders were all native English speakers. Then came the Italian attack. San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Alex de Angelis jumped up to second, dropping Tech 3 Yamaha’s Colin Edwards to third. And in his first visit to Donington Park on the JiR Team Scot Honda RC212V, Andrea Dovizioso finished the session in fourth, relegating Repsol Honda’s Nicky Hayden to fifth. Hayden is racing the pneumatic valve engine for the first time. Test rider Tadayuki Okada gave the engine its race debut at the Catalunya Grand Prix two weeks ago.

Then came Rizla Suzuki’s Chris Vermeulen and local hope James Toseland on the Tech 3 Yamaha.

Kawasaki’s John Hopkins was 11th.

In his first ever MotoGP practice session, Ben Spies finished 18th.

Spies arrived at Donington having never seen the track, ridden the bike, or used the tires. He spent the hour learning everything, with fellow Texan Colin Edwards showing him some of the blind spots on the track.

Spies knew the layout, but said he was surprised how tight the racing line was and how little time was spent at full throttle. The MotoGP 800’s don’t use sixth gear at Donington Park.

Friday Practice:

1. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 1:28.979

2. Alex de Angelis (Honda) 1:29.527

3. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:29.661

4. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:29.718

5. Nicky Hayden (Honda) 1:29.723

6. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) 1:29.787

7. James Toseland (Yamaha) 1:29.878

8. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:29.917

9. Shinya Nakano (Honda) 1:30.144

10. Randy de Puniet (Honda) 1:30.220

11. John Hopkins (Suzuki) 1:30.282

12. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:30.309

13. Anthony West (Kawasaki) 1:30.452

14. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:30.690

15. Marco Melandri (Ducati) 1:30.906

16. Toni Elias (Ducati) 1:31.103

17. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) 1:31.578

18. Ben Spies (Suzuki) 1:31.807

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.