MONTEREY, CA, JULY 18: Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner lowered the lap record he’d sent in the morning by clocking the fastest ever lap of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca during Friday’s red flag-interrupted afternoon session. Under a warmer sun and clearer skies, Stoner lapped the 2.243-mile road course with a time of 1:21.826 mins., just under the morning’s 1:21.915. The time put him clear of the field by .808 secs. Stoner set his fast time on his last lap of the session, which was interrupted after 39 minutes when Kawasaki’s Anthony West crashed. The Australian, who celebrated his 27th birthday two days ago, tucked the front in the transition right out of turn two. His ZXRR exploded into the air fence on rider’s left, causing a delay of about 21 minutes while the safety barrier was replaced. When it resumed, Stoner improved his session best, but without approaching his morning record. Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi was second, Rizla Suzuki’s Chris Vermeulen third, then came Repsol Honda’s Nicky Hayden. On his second flying lap Stoner was into the 1:21’s and just .013 secs. from record territory. Rossi improved his time on his 25th lap, with about 11 minutes to go, but still had .841 secs. to make up. Dovizioso moved in front of Hayden in the sixth minute, then lost the spot just outside of two minutes. And in the final minute de Angelis moved into third, dropping Vermeulen to fourth and Nakano to fifth. The fireworks came at the very end. Hayden clocked his best lap of the session, and fastest ever of the track, on his last lap. The time vaulted him ahead of Rossi and into second. Hayden was the lone Michelin runner in the top six. Behind him came Rossi, San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Alex de Angelis, Vermeulen, and the second San Carlo Honda bike of Shinya Nakano. Just after Hayden crossed the line, Stoner lowered the lap record. Tech 3 Yamaha’s Colin Edwards was seventh, well in front of fellow Texan Ben Spies, who finished 11th. Kawasaki’s Jamie Hacking, who crashed his Monster Kawasaki AMA Superbike in the morning, finished 18th, just in front of his teammate for the weekend Anthony West. Friday Combined Practice: 1. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 1:21.826 2. Nicky Hayden (Honda) 1:22.634 3. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:22.679 4. Alex de Angelis (Honda) 1:22.808 5. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) 1:22.847 6. Shinya Nakano (Honda) 1:22.924 7. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:23.077 8. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:23.097 9. Toni Elias (Ducati) 1:23.114 10. Loris Capirossi (Suzuki) 1:23.185 11. Ben Spies (Suzuki) 1:23.244 12. Marco Melandri (Ducati) 1:23.317 13. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:23.415 14. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) 1:23.495 15. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:23.707 16. James Toseland (Yamaha) 1:23.707 17. Randy de Puniet (Honda) 1:23.955 18. Jamie Hacking (Kawasaki) 1:24.050 19. Anthony West (Kawasaki) 1:24.483
Stoner Lowers Lap Record
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.