Australian Casey Stoner may still be looking for his first win of the season, but the Australian certainly got his Indianapolis weekend off to a perfect start by setting the pace in Friday’s opening practice with a lap time of 1:40.884, making him the only rider to dip below the 1:41s during the hour-long session.
Stoner was running with the new front fork that he tested at Brno on his Desmosedici GP10 and the result appeared to be more than positive this afternoon, as he edged championship leader Jorge Lorenzo for the top slot on the time sheet.
“For the first two laps I didn’t remember anything about the track from two years ago but after that it all came back pretty quickly,” Stoner said. “This is quite a unique circuit because of the different types of surface and the amount of bumps out there so we had to improvise a little today because it’s not easy to pick the right line.
“We made a good start but I’m sure everybody will work things out better tomorrow and close the gap. Having said that this is a good situation to be in on the first day and for the first time in a while we feel there is potential to improve.
“We tried the new front fork today that we tested in Brno and it felt good, although this is not the kind of circuit where you can really push so it’s hard to say if it improved the package.”
Last year’s race winner Lorenzo was quick throughout the practice session, leading until just 15 minutes before the end. The 23-year-old Mallorcan’s best time of 1:41.109 left him 0.225s off Stoner’s best as he attempts to extend his 77-point advantage in the championship standings this weekend.
Nicky Hayden, keen to impress in front of his home crowd, got off to a positive start as he set the third fastest time, before crashing uninjured in the final 15 minutes of the session. The Ducati rider returned to the track aboard his number two bike, but was unable to further improve his lap time.
Dani Pedrosa, who was in fast form at last year’s Indianapolis meeting, was fourth quickest aboard the factory Repsol Honda RC212V with a lap time of 1:41.421, just four-hundredths of a second ahead of reigning MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi, who was fifth on his Fiat Yamaha M1.
The American’s were well represented in the top 10 today, with Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Colin Edwards sixth fastest and teammate Ben Spies eventually finishing eighth fastest behind Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovisioso, despite a late crash that effectively ended the Texan’s practice session five minutes early.
Aleix Espargaro aboard the Pramac Ducati and San Carlo Gresini Honda’s Marco Melandri completed the top 10. Hiroshi Aoyama finished 16th fastest, on his return to competitive action following a nine week lay-off through injury.
Scott Redding’s 22nd and final lap of the first Moto2 practice at Indianapolis on Friday placed the 17 year-old Brit at the top of the time sheet. An effort of 1:46.728 left the Marc VDS Racing Team rider 15-thousandths of a second ahead of championship leader Toni Elías in a confidence-boosting start to his weekend.
Gresini Racing’s Elías beat title rival Andrea Iannone to second by 0.125s as the duo completed the top three, with Simone Corsi just under two-hundredths back in fourth spot and also the final rider to duck under 1:47 during the hour-long session.
Julián Simón, Stefan Bradl, Sergio Gadea and Raffaele De Rosa completed the top eight, with Gabor Talmacsi and wild card rider Jason DiSalvo inside the top ten. Australian Anthony West was 11th.
Championship hopeful Thomas Lüthi was 15th with Shoya Tomizawa down in 27th as a crash affected his session. Vladimir Ivanov was another faller, whilst wild card Roger Lee Hayden overcame an early mechanical issue with his Moriwaki machine to set the 23rd best time of the day.
Championship leader Marc Márquez recovered from an early crash in today’s opening practice session ahead of Sunday’s Indianapolis Grand Prix to set the fastest time of the day in the 125cc class.
Still nursing the dislocated shoulders sustained in a crash at Brno, the Red Bull Ajo Motorsport rider went down in the first 15 minutes of today’s session but bounced back to post a 1:49.452 lap time to secure the top spot on the time sheet.
Last year’s race winner and title hopeful, Pol Espargaró, was not far off his rival’s pace, setting a time just 0.15s off his compatriot’s best to claim second place in the opening session. 2008 Indy race winner, Nico Terol, was third fastest aboard his Bancaja Aspar Aprilia, ahead of Sandro Cortest and Bradley Smith.
Efrén Vázquez, Tomoyoshi Koyama and Esteve Rabat were all inside the top eight, with Danny Webb and Luis Salom rounding out the top ten.
Randy Krummenacher and wild card rider Kris Turner both had falls in the session, with Webb having an off track excursion at the end.