Yamaha's Ben Spies rebounded from a disappointing 11th place finish in last weekend's Spanish Grand Prix with a strong second in Friday practice at the Estoril Circuit in Portugal.

Spies arrived in Portugal 11th in the championship standings after a pair of 11ths in the first two races of the season, Qatar and Spain. Without being specific, he blamed a machine problem for his Qatar performance. It was later revealed to be a cracked seat.  In Spain he blamed himself for faulty front end settings, which he changed in Portugal. Following the Qatar race Monster Yamaha Tech 3's Andrea Dovizioso began lobbying for his job, while teammate Cal Crutchlow was the one who raced like a rider deserving of a factory ride; the Englishman finished fourth in both races. Spies and his team weren't in panic mode, but they also knew that 11th place finishes wouldn't cut it with his teammate leading the MotoGP World Championship.

Repsol Honda's Casey Stoner was fastest in today's combined practices for Sunday's Portuguese Grand Prix. The winner of last weekend's Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez traded the top spot with Spies for the majority of the session. Spies went to the top at the 15 minute mark, lost it to Stoner six minutes later, took it back at 36, raising it with his next lap. Then Stoner dropped the time to 1:38.396 mins. at the 39 minute mark, a lap that would stand up as the best of the day. Spies was second at .321 sec. with Crutchlow a strong third and only .025 sec. back. The session was one of the closer ones of the season with the top nine riders on the same second and Stoner's gap to Spies the largest of the bunch.

Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa was .055 sec. slower than Crutchlow and a just over a tenth better than Lorenzo. San Carlo Honda Gresini's Alvaro Bautista was slightly slower than Lorenzo.

Nicky Hayden took up his traditional position as the fastest of the Ducatis. The Ducati Marlboro rider was the first rider in the 39s (1:39.029 mins.) with company from his fellow Desmosedici riders. Pramac Racing Team Ducati's Hector Barbera came within .164 sec. of matching Hayden, while teammate Valentino Rossi was .328 sec. back and nearly a second slower than Stoner.

Dovi was the final rider in the top ten.

NGM Mobile Forward Racing's Colin Edwards had a slow start to the third race on his CRT Suter-BMW. Edwards was 18th of the 21 riders.

MotoGP Practice Results Estoril:

1. Casey Stoner (Honda) 1:38.396

2. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1:38.717

3. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1:38.742

4. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:38.797

5. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:38.930

6. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1:38.959

7. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:39.029

8. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 1:39.193

9. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1:39.357

10. Andrea Dovizioso (Yamaha) 1:39.615

18. Colin Edwards (Suter-BMW) 1:42.587

MotoGP Headlines

By Cycle News Staff

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