MotoGP: Bad Weather, Fast Stoner In Spain

Cycle News Staff | June 3, 2011

Changing weather conditions caused iffy track conditions today in the opening practice sessions for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Catalunya, but it didn’t seem to have much affect on Casey Stoner.Stoner rode his Repsol Honda to the fastest times in both sessions on the 2.97 Circuit de Catalunya, despite – like several other top MotoGP men – choosing to sit out the early part of the afternoon session. When he did get on track, Stoner did a few quick laps on rain tires, then came back to the pits. When the track was dry enough for slicks, Stoner went back out and was again the fastest rider on track.He didn’t have it all his way, however, as Marco Simoncelli put the San Carlo Honda on top briefly before Stoner again bettered his time to end the session .528 of a second up on Simoncelli.

“We’re quite happy with the day, unfortunately we didn’t get a lot of good wet or dry track time so a lot of time was wasted in changeable conditions and not achieving much,” Stoner said in a team release. “However, in general we got a pretty good feeling with the bike and everything seems to be working well. We would like to improve rear grip and turning on the exit, also some more stability on the brakes, but in general the bike feels good and we’re confident we can go faster tomorrow, hopefully in dry conditions and we’ll see what we can do. Physically I feel better than I have done in the past weeks, I’ve got blocked sinuses, which doesn’t help when I’m trying to concentrate and my ears are popping but I’m trying to put this to one side and concentrate on the job at hand.”Stoner’s lone teammate this weekend (with Dani Pedrosa out of action with his broken collarbone) Andrea Dovizioso ended up third.Last year’s Catalunyan Grand Prix winner Jorge Lorenzo was fourth, some .87 of a second slower than Stoner and the final rider to lap within a second of the Australian.The first of the Americans was Yamaha’s Ben Spies in fifth with Marlboro Ducati’s Valentino Rossi sixth and rookie Cal Crutchlow seventh. Hiroshi Aoyoma was eighth with Nicky Hayden and Alvaro Bautista rounding out the top 10.Unfortunately, Colin Edwards suffered a broken right collarbone when he crashed the Monster Energy Tech 3 Yamaha on his out lap. Edwards has not missed a MotoGP race since he broke into the series in 2003, but the Texan is is expected to undergo surgery on the break today in Spain.With Pedrosa already a non-starter, the loss of Edwards will put the grid at 15 for Sunday’s Grand Prix.Friday Practice

1.                  Casey Stoner (Honda) 1:42.940

2.                  Marco Simoncelli (Honda) 1:43.468

3.                  Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:43.603

4.                  Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:43.810

5.                  Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1:44.859

6.                  Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1:44.944

7.                  Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1:45.136

8.                  Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda) 1:45.666

9.                  Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:45.715

10.                  Alvaro Bautista (Suzuki) 1:45.751

11.                  Toni Elias (Honda) 1:45.760

12.                  Randy de Puniet (Ducati) 1:46.126

13.                  Karely Abraham (Ducati) 1:46.280

14.                  Loris Capirossi (Ducati) 1:46.366

15.                  Hector Barbera (Ducati) 1:46.501

16.                  Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:52.512