MONTEREY, CA., JULY 19: For the third session in a row, Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner set a new lap record, the latest coming during Saturday morning’s cool MotoGP practice session at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Stoner has been unstoppable since arriving in Monterey for Sunday’s Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix. The most recent session was at his most dominant. His fastest lap, which came late in the hour, was the last of three in a row, any one of which was faster than anyone else’s best effort. The lap of 1:21.461 minutes was one of five laps in the 1:21’s, a barrier no one else has broken. Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi was second fastest by .707 secs. The lap of 1:22.168 mins. was Rossi’s best of the weekend and came during a nine lap run with times mostly in the 1:22’s. Rossi’s lone advantage was having the fastest bike: His top speed was 161.37 mph. Stoner topped out at 1:60.189 mph. San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Shinya Nakano was third and Rizla Suzuki’s Chris Vermeulen fourth, and Ducati Marlboro’s Marco Melandri. Then came Repsol Honda’s Nicky Hayden, only .012 secs. back in sixth. On Friday, Hayden had severe problems with his Michelin tires. No matter what he did, he couldn’t get heat into his rear Michelin. Michelin cut slits in the tires to try to generate heat and the team was going to adjust the RC212V to put more stress on the tire. Hayden was the first of the Michelin runners. Hayden’s fellow Americans were out of the top ten. Rizla Suzuki’s Ben Spies was 11th, Tech 3 Yamaha’s Colin Edwards was down in 13th, and Kawasaki’s Jamie Hacking was 17th. Saturday Morning Practice: 1. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 1:21.461 2. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:22.168 3. Shinya Nakano (Honda) 1:22.343 4. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) 1:22.533 5. Marco Melandri (Ducati) 1:22.758 6. Nicky Hayden (Honda) 1:22.770 7. Alex de Angelis (Honda) 1:22.833 8. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:22.967 9. Loris Capirossi (Suzuki) 1:22.988 10. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:23.138 11. Ben Spies (Suzuki) 1:23.171 12. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) 1:23.179 13. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:23.233 14. Toni Elias (Ducati) 1:23.234 15. James Toseland (Yamaha) 1:23.338 16. Randy de Puniet (Honda) 1:23.358 17. Jamie Hacking (Kawasaki) 1:23.663 18. Anthony West (Kawasaki) 1:24.165
Stoner Goes Quicker
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.