Stoner Fast on Friday in Valencia

Cycle News Staff | November 4, 2011

Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner sat out most of Friday afternoon’s wet MotoGP practice after setting a much faster time in better conditions in the morning session on a day when many riders paid tribute to the late Marco Simoncelli.The 2011 MotoGP World Champion finished the morning session with a lap of 1:45.513 mins., a time that no one came close to approaching in the afternoon, when the rain was harder and the track wetter. Stoner only ran a handful of laps later in the day and wasn’t within four seconds of his morning time. He finished eight fastest in the afternoon.Teammate Dani Pedrosa had a similar day to Stoner. The Spaniard was second in the morning and ninth in the afternoon. Unlike Stoner, who clinched the crown in Australia three weeks ago, Pedrosa is fighting for his championship position. He came into the fourth of his home GPs trailing teammate Andrea Dovizioso by four points. Dovi finished the morning ninth fastest and sixth in the afternoon.

The Ducati Marlboro team had by far their best combined outing of the year. Valentino Rossi, who paid homage to Simoncelli with a note on his leathers, was third fastest in the morning, and only .092 sec. behind Pedrosa, with Nicky Hayden .245 sec. behind Rossi. Hayden was second in the afternoon to Rizla Suzuki’s Alvaro Bautista. Bautista had Simoncelli’s number ‘58′ painted on the top of his helmet.Bautista finished the afternoon with a lap of 1:49.975 mins., a time that would have put him 15th in the morning.Loris Capirossi made it three Ducatis in a row by slotting into fifth place in the morning. The final weekend of the 2011 season is an especially emotional one for Capirossi. The 38-year-old Italian is retiring after a 22-year career that included three world championships. He’ll retire with 29 grand prix wins, including his final win in mixed conditions at Motegi in 2007. Capirossi, who’s traditional number is ’65,’ is racing his Pramac Racing Ducati with the number ‘58′ in honor of Simoncelli.Yamaha’s Ben Spies was sixth fastest in the morning, but didn’t finish the afternoon session. The Texan crashed on the brakes on the painted white line entering turn one with more than 21 minutes remaining. He chose not to rejoin session and may have reinjured the ribs he first damaged in qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix.Josh Hayes, the final American, made his MotoGP debut by riding Colin Edwards’ Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 to the 15th fastest time in the morning. Hayes was tenth in the afternoon, after running as high as fifth. Edwards is recovering at home in Conroe, Texas after surgery to anchor the left shoulder he dislocated in the Malaysian Grand Prix crash that took the life of Simoncelli.Pramac Racing Ducati’s Randy Ducati was just behind Spies, with Toni Elias (LCR Honda MotoGP) eighth fastest in his final ride for the team. Elias crashed in turn two in the afternoon.Dovi was ninth, with Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) tenth.Combined Friday Valencia MotoGP Practice Results:1. Casey Stoner (Honda) 1:45.513

2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:45.736

3. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1:45.828

4. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:46.073

5. Loris Capirossi (Ducati) 1:46.108

6. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1:46.259

7. Randy de Puniet (Ducati) 1:46.371

8. Toni Elias (Honda) 1:46.393

9. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:46.402

10. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1:46.581

15. Josh Hayes (Yamaha) 1:48.037