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MotoGP Le Mans: Stoner leads first practice; Rossi tenth

Soon-to-be-retired reigning MotoGP champion Casey Stoner fended off a late charge by Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa to set the fastest time at this morning first free practice session at Le Mans.

The Aussie, who shocked everyone yesterday by announcing he would quit at the end of the season, stuck in a 1'34.321 with his final lap to go more than half a second faster than Pedrosa and they were the only riders to go into the 1'34s.

Andrea Dovizioso also stuck in late one to put his Monster Yamaha in third place and top YZR-M1 deposing Ben Spies, on the factory bike, who had only just springboarded himself up the order from ninth. Hector Barbera got a tow from Stoner in order to get his fifth place, one slot ahead of Jorge Lorenzo.


Cal Crutchlow, on the second Monster-liveried bike, is in seventh but only two-tenths slower than his team-mate with Alvaro Bautista one place behind in eighth. Nicky Hayden slid in front of Ducati team-mate Valentino Rossi with his last lap. The Doctor is 1.5s off the pace despite putting in 23 laps.

Karel Abraham and Stefan Bradl are the last of the prototypes with the ART CRT bikes of Randy De Puniet and Aleix Espargaro right behind them. The Frenchman is running similar laptimes and is 2.6s off Stoner's best.

Britain's James Ellison was 18th and 4.6s off with the returning Chris Vermeuelen, standing in for Colin Edwards, last on a 1'41.398.

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