HOHENSTEIN-ERNSTTHAL, GERMANY, JULY 11: Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner finished the first day of practice for Sunday’s Alice Grand Prix of Germany on top of the time sheets, but not before surviving a harrowing crash. Stoner was making the rapid-fire left-right transition at the highest point of the 2.28-mile Sachsenring when the Desmosedici GP8 became unsettled. As he pitched it right to start the long downhill, the front end tucked, sending him sprawling down the track and into the gravel, his bike preceding him. He was quickly up on his feet, and apparently unhurt, but with less than nine minutes to run his day was done. Still, his lap time of 1:21.582 mins. was the fastest ever by a motorcycle around the 2.28-mile track in the former East Germany. The gap was narrowed by San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Alex de Angelis to .411 secs. with less than four minutes to go in the hourlong session, but that’s as close as anyone got. Stoner’s spill came after an earlier trip off-track in a session replete with crashes. Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso both crashed in the same downhill left early in the session. Tech 3 Yamaha’s Colin Edwards added to his team’s parts bill with a sudden front end washout in the final uphill left. Edwards finished third fastest. Edwards’ teammate James Toseland had inflicted heavy damage on his M1 in the morning session. The English rider finished with the 17th and slowest time. Just in front of Toseland was Stoner’s disgruntled teammate Marco Melandri. Melandri had a run through the gravel, but didn’t crash en route to the 16th best time. Behind Edwards came Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi on the strength of his morning time. The Italian was .179 secs. slower in the afternoon. Pedrosa held fifth, also from the morning, with Fiat Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo sixth. Shinya Nakano came seventh on the second San Carlo Gresini Honda. Next was the Repsol Honda of Nicky Hayden, the “Kentucky Kid” suffering a top speed deficit. Stoner’s Ducati was 6.2 mph faster than Hayden’s pneumatic valve RC212V, with Pedrosa’s conventionally valved RC212V almost as fast as the front-running Ducati. Friday Combined Practice: 1. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 1:21.582 2. Alex de Angelis (Honda) 1:21.993 3. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:22.463 4. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:22.796 5. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:22.894 6. Shinya Nakano (Honda) 1:22.922 7. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:22.974 8. Nicky Hayden (Honda) 1:22.975 9. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:23.093 10. Randy de Puniet (Honda) 1:23.116 11. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) 1:23.209 12. Loris Capirossi (Suzuki) 1:23.274 13. Toni Elias (Ducati) 1:23.366 14. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) 1:23.411 15. Anthony West (Kawasaki) 1:23.452 16. Marco Melandri (Ducati) 1:23.698 17. James Toseland (Yamaha) 1:23.864
Stoner Crashes, Stays Fastest
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.