Stoner Dominates First Practice At Silverstone

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Casey Stoner was in ominous form in first practice for the British Grand Prix on Friday morning after dominating the session from start to finish.

The Repsol Honda rider will have his sights set on overhauling Jorge Lorenzo's seven point lead in the championship and signaled his intentions with a best lap of 2:03.748, just four tenths slower than last year's pole position.

The Australian appeared to be in a class of his own as he repeatedly bettered his own time, with his rivals struggling simply to keep in touch. In the end, Marco Simoncelli got to within 0.645s of Stoner and the polesitter last weekend in Catalunya will surely be a contender again, particularly given the apparent dominance of the Honda.

Jorge Lorenzo was the quickest Yamaha in third but will be concerned at being a full second away from the pace of Stoner on a circuit which he took pole position and victory last year.

Nicky Hayden made a strong start to the weekend and was rarely outside the top six for Ducati. The American was a fraction slower than Lorenzo in fourth. Andrea Dovizioso finished fifth after struggling to match the blistering pace of his Honda colleagues up front.

Home favourite Cal Crutchlow gave plenty of cause for the British fans to be optimistic heading into the weekend after going sixth quickest, 1.259s off the pace and just a quarter of a second away from Lorenzo aboard the factory Yamaha. The Tech3 rider did climb as high as second place during the session and will be hopeful of building on his impressive rookie season so far.

Fresh from signing a one-year contract extension with Yamaha Factory Racing, Ben Spies went seventh fastest on Friday morning ahead of Hector Barbera on the Mapfre Aspar Ducati and Alvaro Bautista for Rizla Suzuki.

Pramac Racing's Randy de Puniet completed the top ten ahead of fellow Ducati riders Karel Abraham and Valentino Rossi. The Italian is competing at Silverstone for the first time after missing last year's event due to injury and took his time getting to grips with the circuit.

Hiroshi Aoyama was 13th ahead of Toni Elias and Loris Capirossi, whose session was blighted by a minor fall at Vale, while Colin Edwards completed the 16-man line-up. The Texan is competing just a week after breaking his collarbone in Barcelona and incredibly was riding without painkillers. He ended up 5.562s off the pace as he eased his way back in to action.

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