Le Mans MotoGP: Stoner Leads Friday

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.RiderNationTeamBikeKm/hTimeGap 1st/Prev.
1.1Casey STONERAUSRepsol Honda TeamHonda307.51’34.321
2.26Dani PEDROSASPARepsol Honda TeamHonda308.01’34.9080.587 / 0.587
3.4Andrea DOVIZIOSOITAMonster Yamaha Tech 3Yamaha304.71’35.0650.744 / 0.157
4.11Ben SPIESUSAYamaha Factory RacingYamaha299.31’35.2020.881 / 0.137
5.8Hector BARBERASPAPramac Racing TeamDucati308.31’35.2130.892 / 0.011
6.99Jorge LORENZOSPAYamaha Factory RacingYamaha303.81’35.2390.918 / 0.026
7.35Cal CRUTCHLOWGBRMonster Yamaha Tech 3Yamaha302.81’35.3180.997 / 0.079
8.19Alvaro BAUTISTASPASan Carlo Honda GresiniHonda304.31’35.3361.015 / 0.018
9.69Nicky HAYDENUSADucati TeamDucati303.51’35.4031.082 / 0.067
10.46Valentino ROSSIITADucati TeamDucati302.41’35.8291.508 / 0.426
11.17Karel ABRAHAMCZECardion AB MotoracingDucati304.31’36.2911.970 / 0.462
12.6Stefan BRADLGERLCR Honda MotoGPHonda305.31’36.5002.179 / 0.209
13.14Randy DE PUNIETFRAPower Electronics AsparART283.81’36.9352.614 / 0.435
14.41Aleix ESPARGAROSPAPower Electronics AsparART284.11’37.9163.595 / 0.981
15.54Mattia PASINIITASpeed MasterART282.11’38.1403.819 / 0.224
16.68Yonny HERNANDEZCOLAvintia BlusensBQR287.01’38.2093.888 / 0.069
17.51Michele PIRROITASan Carlo Honda GresiniFTR289.91’38.2553.934 / 0.046
18.77James ELLISONGBRPaul Bird MotorsportART284.21’38.9434.622 / 0.688
19.9Danilo PETRUCCIITACame IodaRacing ProjectIoda273.11’39.1104.789 / 0.167
20.22Ivan SILVASPAAvintia BlusensBQR284.91’39.7295.408 / 0.619
7Chris VERMEULENAUSNGM Mobile Forward RacingSuter283.81’41.3987.077 / 1.669

2012 Le Mans MotoGP Free Practice Two Results:

Pos.Num.RiderNationTeamBikeKm/hTimeGap 1st/Prev.
1.1Casey STONERAUSRepsol Honda TeamHonda307.61’33.740
2.26Dani PEDROSASPARepsol Honda TeamHonda308.51’34.0050.265 / 0.265
3.99Jorge LORENZOSPAYamaha Factory RacingYamaha304.11’34.1360.396 / 0.131
4.19Alvaro BAUTISTASPASan Carlo Honda GresiniHonda305.31’34.4370.697 / 0.301
5.11Ben SPIESUSAYamaha Factory RacingYamaha300.31’34.4670.727 / 0.030
6.4Andrea DOVIZIOSOITAMonster Yamaha Tech 3Yamaha304.31’34.5850.845 / 0.118
7.35Cal CRUTCHLOWGBRMonster Yamaha Tech 3Yamaha304.31’34.6100.870 / 0.025
8.8Hector BARBERASPAPramac Racing TeamDucati309.21’35.0791.339 / 0.469
9.46Valentino ROSSIITADucati TeamDucati302.21’35.1121.372 / 0.033
10.69Nicky HAYDENUSADucati TeamDucati301.81’35.1321.392 / 0.020
11.6Stefan BRADLGERLCR Honda MotoGPHonda303.61’35.2011.461 / 0.069
12.17Karel ABRAHAMCZECardion AB MotoracingDucati305.81’35.7872.047 / 0.586
13.14Randy DE PUNIETFRAPower Electronics AsparART287.81’36.4382.698 / 0.651
14.68Yonny HERNANDEZCOLAvintia BlusensBQR287.51’36.9283.188 / 0.490
15.54Mattia PASINIITASpeed MasterART286.11’37.0933.353 / 0.165
16.51Michele PIRROITASan Carlo Honda GresiniFTR286.91’37.3103.570 / 0.217
17.41Aleix ESPARGAROSPAPower Electronics AsparART287.61’37.5853.845 / 0.275
18.9Danilo PETRUCCIITACame IodaRacing ProjectIoda273.31’38.2554.515 / 0.670
19.22Ivan SILVASPAAvintia BlusensBQR286.91’38.2604.520 / 0.005
20.77James ELLISONGBRPaul Bird MotorsportART284.21’38.3954.655 / 0.135
21.7Chris VERMEULENAUSNGM Mobile Forward RacingSuter286.81’39.3835.643 / 0.988