Casey Stoner - Photo Credit: MotoGP.com

Casey Stoner - Photo Credit: MotoGP.com

 

After making the headlines with his press conference announcement yesterday, Casey Stoner let his riding do the talking on Friday at Le Mans by comfortably topping both practice sessions. The World Champion announced his retirement from MotoGP on Thursday afternoon but promised to remain his committed self for the rest of the year, and a 1:33.740s lap in FP2 proved his point.

Stoner was quickest in the morning but watched Jorge Lorenzo beat his FP1 time six minutes into the second session. The Yamaha rider was only sixth in the morning and looked much more competitive second time around, although Dani Pedrosa managed to go a tenth quicker than him with just over half an hour remaining.

Pedrosa had lowered the target time to a 1:34.005 but when Stoner ventured out for his final run of the session, he was straight into the 1:33s, completing three separate laps which would all have been good enough to top the session. The best of them was a 1:33.740, giving the Australian a quarter of a second advantage overnight.

Alvaro Bautista showed his best form yet on the Gresini Honda to finish fourth ahead of Ben Spies while the two Tech 3 Yamahas ended the day in sixth and seventh, Andrea Dovizioso getting the better of Cal Crutchlow.

The Ducatis populated the midfield once again with Hector Barbera's Pramac machine outpacing the two factory models. The Spaniard was a superb fifth in the morning before dropping to a more representative eighth in the afternoon while Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden rounded out the top ten. Stefan Bradl was next up in eleventh with Karel Abraham the slowest prototype rider in twelfth on his satellite Ducati.

On home soil, Randy de Puniet led the CRT runners in thirteenth but his Aspar teammate Aleix Espargaro suffered a crash late in the second session, leaving a disappointing seventeenth. James Ellison also had a difficult FP2, only completing four laps, and the Briton only has returnee Chris Vermeulen behind him on the leaderboard.