HOHENSTEIN-ERNSTTHAL, GERMANY, JULY 11: Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner didn’t seem upset by crashing in a fifth gear transition corner during Friday afternoon practice for Sunday's Alice German Grand Prix. The resurgent world champion was laughing it off in his pit box at the end of free practice, clearly undamaged either physically or mentally. It helped that no one was able to come within .4 secs. of his best time, a lap of 1:21.585 mins. that set a new motorcycle record at the 2.28-mile Sachsenring in the former East Germany. And his pace was equally impressive, with five laps in the 21’s. The second fastest Alex de Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini) had one, but no one else did. Stoner explained that “when it happens like that and you know you did nothing wrong and it was just sort of one of those things, caught me quite a lot by surprise, because we’ve had some difficulties this morning with the front end, but only on the left side,” he said. “I wasn’t ready for it and I couldn’t really stick my knee in to try and save it. I was already gone too far. But I think that’s why the fact that I was reasonably happy is that it didn’t worry me.” He thought he might have made a small mistake, “hit the wrong patch. But the bike’s been working very well, especially in that part of the track as well, so we’re not worried.” The morning session had brought a propensity for tearing up front tires. But in the afternoon a change of tires and front end angle solved the problem “and this has helped a lot. We ran the whole session with basically the same front tire. So we’ve done plenty of laps on it. It looks like new still. “We’re very happy with this afternoon’s session and it was easy for me to continue to go faster and faster. We’re using now the hardest compound tire that we have. And we’ve still got one more step to try to see tomorrow if it’s better or worse, but we’re very confident with the way things are going.” The crash wasn’t Stoner’s only moment. Earlier in the session he ran off the track when the engine quit without warning. “As we hit one bump, for some reason the engine died and then it went straight back to full power again,” he said. “So it went out a little bit and it came back a lot. So basically the engine died and then it came to full power again. So it was just a little nervous through there one lap, but normally it’s actually quite stable through there for me.” Stoner wouldn’t predict a time for his Saturday afternoon qualifying lap. He thought it would be in the 1:20’s, but added that there hadn't been much in his qualifier last year. “We actually made the front end a lot better for turning in the middle of the corner and a lot more stable, so I think hopefully we can tomorrow go a little bit faster,” he said. “And qualifying tires, as you saw last year, we only gained maybe half a second because the track conditions were so hot that the qualifying tires weren’t able to last one lap perfectly. We’ll see what happens, but maybe in the 20’s tomorrow.”

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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.

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