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MotoGP Catalunya: Stoner tops tight first session; Rossi 11th

Repsol Honda's Casey Stoner has bagged top spot in the first MotoGP free practice at Catalunya this morning in a session that saw the top 12 riders covered by less than a second and the Australian not far away from outright lap record pace.

The lap record is held by Dani Pedrosa on a 1'42.358 and Stoner is a little over three-tenths of a second slower than that on a 1'42.775. Stoner set his lap with seven minutes left of the period left and toppled team-mate Pedrosa whose fifth lap of 16 was quickest for almost the entire 45 minutes.

Former World Champion Jorge Lorenzo slid into third place on the works Yamaha on a 1'43.008 with his penultimate lap which demoted Cal Crutchlow, complete with upgraded discs and calipers, into fourth. The Briton was sitting in second with a quarter of an hour left and he is only four-tenths off the pace set by Stoner.


Lorenzo's team-mate Ben Spies has started brightly in fifth and just 0.009s slower than Crutchlow's satellite Monster Yamaha while Stefan Bradl recovered from an early trip into the gravel to take sixth ahead of Nicky Hayden on the works Ducati.

Karel Abraham pipped Andrea Dovizioso for eighth place with his 1'43.315 but the Italian is 0.056s behind the Czech Ducati man. Alvaro Bautista rounds out the top ten and is one place ahead of Valentino Rossi. The Doctor, who is using a new aluminium swingarm tested at Mugello, is just over three quarters of a second off the pace.

Unsurprisingly, Randy De Puniet is top CRT man on the Aspar Aprilia with team-mate Aleix Espargaro right behind him. The returning Colin Edwards finished 17th overall while James Ellison is two places further back.

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