Casey Stoner edged a tight three-way battle in final practice for the United States Grand Prix at Laguna Seca but the session came to a dramatic conclusion with a nasty accident for Jorge Lorenzo.
The World Champion's session had already reached its' end but moments after stopping for a practice start, the Yamaha highsided coming through turn five with the YZR-M1 following the World Champion into the gravel trap before crashing into him. Lorenzo subsequently limped away before being taken to the medical centre, thankfully he was declared fit to continue.
Stoner avoided trouble to set the fastest time of the weekend on a 1:21.806, a time set in the opening quarter of an hour. Lorenzo matched him stride for stride and ended up less than half a tenth behind but Dani Pedrosa was also a contender, finishing with a 1:21.823 to slot in between the two championship rivals.
Marco Simoncelli was the big mover on Saturday morning, almost halving the gap between himself and the front runners with a 1:22.222, comfortably his fastest lap of the weekend. Despite hoping to make progress of his own, Ben Spies was unable to close the half second gap to his teammate and finished fifth, with Andrea Dovizioso matching the second Yamaha in sixth.
Ducati showed their best form for a while as Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi took seventh and eighth respectively, both within a second of the ultimate pace. Hayden's best time of 1:22.432 was set on board the GP11 while Rossi has committed to riding the GP11.1 for the rest of the weekend, and was two tenths shy of his teammate.
The improvement from the Italian squad relegated Alvaro Bautista to ninth with Hector Barbera completing the top ten on the Mapfre Aspar Ducati despite a trip through the gravel at the Corkscrew. Colin Edwards was 1.256s off the pace in 11th with Randy de Puniet and Britain's Cal Crutchlow close behind.
Karel Abraham was only 15th after a crash on his Cardion Ducati with Loris Capirossi continuing his return from injury in 16th. The two LCR Hondas brought up the rear but they were nearly reduced to one after a crash for Toni Elias. With the Spaniard's spare bike going to Ben Bostrom, he was fortunate to return to the pits unscathed.
2011 Red Bull U.S Grand Prix: FP3
|1||Casey Stoner||AUS||Honda||Repsol Honda Team||1:21.806|
|2||Dani Pedrosa||SPA||Honda||Repsol Honda Team||+0.017|
|3||Jorge Lorenzo||SPA||Yamaha||Yamaha Factory Racing||+0.049|
|4||Marco Simoncelli||ITA||Honda||San Carlo Honda Gresini||+0.416|
|5||Ben Spies||USA||Yamaha||Yamaha Factory Racing||+0.519|
|6||Andrea Dovizioso||ITA||Honda||Repsol Honda Team||+0.550|
|7||Nicky Hayden||USA||Ducati||Ducati Team||+0.626|
|8||Valentino Rossi||ITA||Ducati||Ducati Team||+0.841|
|9||Alvaro Bautista||SPA||Suzuki||Rizla Suzuki MotoGP||+1.034|
|10||Hector Barbera||SPA||Ducati||Mapfre Aspar Team MotoGP||+1.071|
|11||Colin Edwards||USA||Yamaha||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||+1.256|
|12||Randy de Puniet||FRA||Ducati||Pramac Racing Team||+1.274|
|13||Cal Crutchlow||GBR||Yamaha||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||+1.337|
|14||Hiroshi Aoyama||JAP||Honda||San Carlo Honda Gresini||+1.707|
|15||Karel Abraham||CZE||Ducati||Cardion AB Motoracing||+1.738|
|16||Loris Capirossi||ITA||Ducati||Pramac Racing Team||+2.232|
|17||Toni Elias||SPA||Honda||LCR Honda MotoGP||+2.250|
|18||Ben Bostrom (WC)||USA||Honda||LCR Honda MotoGP||+4.128|