TOWCESTER, ENGLAND, JUNE 15 - Repsol Honda's Casey Stoner made the most of the limited dry track time to narrowly set the fastest time in Friday's combined practice at the Silverstone Circuit in England.
Friday morning practice was a washout and a brief shower cut into the heart of the afternoon session. The bikes returned to the track with about half the session gone and a track that was recently dried by gusting winds and sunshine. Having sat in the pits for nearly 18 minutes, Stoner was ready to go and set his fastest time on his third flying lap. Then came another extended stay in the pits, after which he set the fastest time of the day.
His time of 2:04.791 on the sixth of his seven flying laps was just enough to take overnight bragging rights.
"We didn't learn very much from today," Stoner said. "In the first session we tried understand the bike in the wet a little better, but it was gradually drying out throughout the session so it was difficult to take any real data. It was a similar situation this afternoon. We went out for a couple of laps and it started to rain, which destroyed most of the session. We found the bike very hard to ride so we came in and made a change which took a lot of time and we didn't manage so many laps. It would be nice if we get some better weather again tomorrow and this wind makes things very tricky, but everyone is in the same position. The chatter is a little better, we made another small improvement, but we'll need to check it tomorrow in some more consistent conditions."
Nearly taking him down was Yamaha's Ben Spies. Spies' run of bad luck continued in the morning when he was one of three riders to crash in the rain. In the second half of the dry afternoon session, the Texan strung together a trio of increasingly faster laps, but none would be his best. That one came on his penultimate fast lap, a lap that was within .034 of a second of Stoner's best.
“Today was pretty good, although we didn’t get off to a great start this morning," Spies said in a Yamaha release. "I had a small mishap and crashed at T15. I’m happy enough though, even this morning in the rain I was very comfortable on the bike. We got a good dry session in this afternoon as well, which is useful just in case we do have a dry race. The bike is working really well, it was pretty windy out there, but we made the most of the 45 minutes to try a couple of things and we ended up going pretty quick.”
San Carlo Honda Gresini's Alvaro Bautista was third fastest, .170 of a second behind Spies and .358 of a second up on Ducati Marlboro's Nicky Hayden.
Like Spies, Hayden turned his fastest time on his next to last lap, a time of 2:05.353. Teammate Valentino Rossi continued his dry track struggles by finishing with only the 11th fastest fastest time - the slowest of the prototypes.
In the earlier wet session, Rossi made plenty of noise as the fastest rider in those conditions. And to make the smiles over at Ducati even bigger, Hayden was second.
Silverstone MotoGP Practice Results:
1. Casey Stoner (Honda) 2:04.791
2. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 2:04.825
3. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 2:04.995
4. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 2:05.353
5. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 2:05.391
6. Andrea Dovizioso (Yamaha) 2:05.448
7. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2:05.488
8. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 2:05.574
9. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 2:05.886
10. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 2:06.084
11. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 2:07.125
19. Colin Edwards (BMW-Suter) 2:11.325