Le Mans MotoGP: Stoner Leads Friday

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2012 MotoGP

On Thursday, Casey Stoner announced his retirement, and on Friday he was on top of the time sheets.

The Repsol Honda RC213V rider, who has won the past two rounds (Jerez, Estoril), immediately went to work at the first free practice for Le Mans MotoGP, setting the pace with a 1:34.321.

And like always, the Australian significantly bettered his time in the second free practice. During FP2, Stoner posted a 1:33.740. This time was quicker than the best time in the corresponding sessions at last year’s French Grand Prix, which took place under warmer temperatures.

These times arrived after Stoner announced he will retire following this year’s season, attributing the move to various reasons. But regardless of his decision, he was untouchable Friday at Le Mans.

Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC213V MotoGP) says: “The sessions today went quite well for us. Believe it or not, today we were trying to create chatter, so we can make the most use of this dry time on track to understand it a little better and make some improvements for the rest of the season.

“We are happy to use some of the sessions to focus on fixing the chatter issue, and not worry about the set up immediately. We started to find some chatter at the end of the day when we switched to the hard front tyre and hopefully it will stay dry tomorrow so we can continue to work on this.

“After yesterday’s announcement, I definitely felt a weight off my shoulders when I got on the bike this morning. The last two races I’ve had a lot of thoughts running through my mind and this weekend I already feel better knowing it’s off my chest and we can now focus on the rest of the season, and try to enjoy it.”

Following 0.265 of a second behind Stoner in FP2 was Dani Pedrosa, with Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo 0.396 of a second back.

Putting in spectacular performance was Alvaro Bautista on the satellite San Carlo Honda RC213V. The Spaniard was 0.697 behind Stoner, and was followed closely by 0.030 of a second by Yamaha Factory Racing’s Ben Spies, who has struggled so far this season.

In sixth and seventh were the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 duo of Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow, respectively. Taking the top spot for Ducati was Pramac Racing Team’s Hector Barbera, who was just ahead of the Ducati Team duo of Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden. Rossi, who announced Thursday that he will remain in MotoGP for the following two years, was 1.372 seconds behind Stoner.

MotoGP reports that the top CRT honor went to local favorite Randy de Puniet, who put in a good performance in 13th, despite still suffering back-pain from his crash at Estoril. NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s replacement for Colin Edwards, 2007 Le Mans race-winner Chris Vermeulen, finished in last place, as he was getting used to the Suter-BMW machine.

Came IodaRacing Project’s Danilo Petrucci had a day to forget, as he suffered a serious engine failure early in the second session. It was misery as well for Speed Master’s Mattia Pasini as he dropped his bike in the gravel after running wide, while in the final few minutes of the afternoon, Aspar’s Aleix Espargaró had his second crash of the day as lost the front of his ART machine. San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Michele Pirro was the only other rider to crash in the morning session, after coming off in Museum corner, MotoGP says.

2012 Le Mans MotoGP Free Practice One Results:

Pos. Num. Rider Nation Team Bike Km/h Time Gap 1st/Prev.
1. 1 Casey STONER AUS Repsol Honda Team Honda 307.5 1’34.321
2. 26 Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 308.0 1’34.908 0.587 / 0.587
3. 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 304.7 1’35.065 0.744 / 0.157
4. 11 Ben SPIES USA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha 299.3 1’35.202 0.881 / 0.137
5. 8 Hector BARBERA SPA Pramac Racing Team Ducati 308.3 1’35.213 0.892 / 0.011
6. 99 Jorge LORENZO SPA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha 303.8 1’35.239 0.918 / 0.026
7. 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 302.8 1’35.318 0.997 / 0.079
8. 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda 304.3 1’35.336 1.015 / 0.018
9. 69 Nicky HAYDEN USA Ducati Team Ducati 303.5 1’35.403 1.082 / 0.067
10. 46 Valentino ROSSI ITA Ducati Team Ducati 302.4 1’35.829 1.508 / 0.426
11. 17 Karel ABRAHAM CZE Cardion AB Motoracing Ducati 304.3 1’36.291 1.970 / 0.462
12. 6 Stefan BRADL GER LCR Honda MotoGP Honda 305.3 1’36.500 2.179 / 0.209
13. 14 Randy DE PUNIET FRA Power Electronics Aspar ART 283.8 1’36.935 2.614 / 0.435
14. 41 Aleix ESPARGARO SPA Power Electronics Aspar ART 284.1 1’37.916 3.595 / 0.981
15. 54 Mattia PASINI ITA Speed Master ART 282.1 1’38.140 3.819 / 0.224
16. 68 Yonny HERNANDEZ COL Avintia Blusens BQR 287.0 1’38.209 3.888 / 0.069
17. 51 Michele PIRRO ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR 289.9 1’38.255 3.934 / 0.046
18. 77 James ELLISON GBR Paul Bird Motorsport ART 284.2 1’38.943 4.622 / 0.688
19. 9 Danilo PETRUCCI ITA Came IodaRacing Project Ioda 273.1 1’39.110 4.789 / 0.167
20. 22 Ivan SILVA SPA Avintia Blusens BQR 284.9 1’39.729 5.408 / 0.619
7 Chris VERMEULEN AUS NGM Mobile Forward Racing Suter 283.8 1’41.398 7.077 / 1.669

2012 Le Mans MotoGP Free Practice Two Results:

Pos. Num. Rider Nation Team Bike Km/h Time Gap 1st/Prev.
1. 1 Casey STONER AUS Repsol Honda Team Honda 307.6 1’33.740
2. 26 Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 308.5 1’34.005 0.265 / 0.265
3. 99 Jorge LORENZO SPA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha 304.1 1’34.136 0.396 / 0.131
4. 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda 305.3 1’34.437 0.697 / 0.301
5. 11 Ben SPIES USA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha 300.3 1’34.467 0.727 / 0.030
6. 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 304.3 1’34.585 0.845 / 0.118
7. 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 304.3 1’34.610 0.870 / 0.025
8. 8 Hector BARBERA SPA Pramac Racing Team Ducati 309.2 1’35.079 1.339 / 0.469
9. 46 Valentino ROSSI ITA Ducati Team Ducati 302.2 1’35.112 1.372 / 0.033
10. 69 Nicky HAYDEN USA Ducati Team Ducati 301.8 1’35.132 1.392 / 0.020
11. 6 Stefan BRADL GER LCR Honda MotoGP Honda 303.6 1’35.201 1.461 / 0.069
12. 17 Karel ABRAHAM CZE Cardion AB Motoracing Ducati 305.8 1’35.787 2.047 / 0.586
13. 14 Randy DE PUNIET FRA Power Electronics Aspar ART 287.8 1’36.438 2.698 / 0.651
14. 68 Yonny HERNANDEZ COL Avintia Blusens BQR 287.5 1’36.928 3.188 / 0.490
15. 54 Mattia PASINI ITA Speed Master ART 286.1 1’37.093 3.353 / 0.165
16. 51 Michele PIRRO ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR 286.9 1’37.310 3.570 / 0.217
17. 41 Aleix ESPARGARO SPA Power Electronics Aspar ART 287.6 1’37.585 3.845 / 0.275
18. 9 Danilo PETRUCCI ITA Came IodaRacing Project Ioda 273.3 1’38.255 4.515 / 0.670
19. 22 Ivan SILVA SPA Avintia Blusens BQR 286.9 1’38.260 4.520 / 0.005
20. 77 James ELLISON GBR Paul Bird Motorsport ART 284.2 1’38.395 4.655 / 0.135
21. 7 Chris VERMEULEN AUS NGM Mobile Forward Racing Suter 286.8 1’39.383 5.643 / 0.988