Four days after winning his second grand prix of the year, Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner got to work on his third.

The reigning world champion topped both practice sessions on the Circuit van Drenthe in Assen, Holland, site of Saturday’s Dutch TT.

In the morning session the British Grand Prix winner lapped the track in the north of Holland in 1:36.569 minutes, a time that put him .617 secs. ahead of Repsol Honda’s Nicky Hayden. Hayden’s teammate Dani Pedrosa was third, with Tech 3 Yamaha’s Colin Edwards fourth.

The order changed in the afternoon. Stoner was again on top, now with a new track record of 1:36.087 mins. Stoner’s best lap came on the 10th of 26 and was never seriously challenged.

Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi came closest, but it wasn’t very close. His best of 1:36.819 mins was .732 secs. slower and the best of a tight pack of pursuers. The next ten riders were covered by just over half a second.

Edwards improved his morning time to move up to third, .112 secs. off Rossi and .081 secs. up on Hayden.

Then came three satellite Hondas; San Carlo Honda Gresini teammates Alex de Angelis and Shinya Nakano, and LCR Honda’s Randy de Puniet.

Kawasaki’s John Hopkins, who’d run as high as fifth with six minutes to go, finished with the eighth best time.

Pedrosa dropped to ninth in the afternoon, one up on Rizla Suzuki’s Chris Vermeulen.

Vermeulen’s teammate Loris Capirossi had a less than stellar day in his racing return. The Italian, who was replaced by Ben Spies at last week’s British Grand Prix, crashed on his way to the 17th fastest time.

Assen MotoGP Thursday Practice Results:

1. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 1:36.087

2. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:36.822

3. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:36.931

4. Nicky Hayden (Honda) 1:37.012

5. Alex de Angelis (Honda) 1:37.126

6. Shinya Nakano (Honda) 1:37.137

7. Randy de Puniet (Honda) 1:37.187

8. John Hopkins (Kawasaki) 1:37.251

9. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:37.280

10. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) 1:37.282

MotoGP News

By Cycle News Staff

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