Spies Tops Tight Thursday Practice At Assen

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Assen specialist Ben Spies led a fiercely competitive day of practice at the Dutch TT as the top 11 riders were covered by less than half a second. The Yamaha rider, returning to the scene of his only previous MotoGP win, edged ahead of Nicky Hayden with four minutes to go before Cal Crutchlow split the Americans in the dying moments.

The morning session was similarly tight with Jorge Lorenzo leading Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner but the championship frontrunners played second fiddle at the end of the second session. Lorenzo led on a 1:35.057 before Hayden usurped him six minutes from time. Spies then sneaked ahead of the Ducati before Crutchlow slotted into second, despite leading the no.11 by a tenth of a second entering the final sector.

The top three were the only riders to break into the 1:34s but a further three riders set lap times in the 1:35.0s range, Alvaro Bautista being the quickest of them. The Gresini rider pipped Lorenzo by half a tenth for fourth place while Dani Pedrosa completed the top six. Casey Stoner was a subdued tenth in the afternoon session after completing only eight laps but his morning time was good enough to rank him seventh overall.

Andrea Dovizioso was eight quickest on the second Tech 3 Yamaha ahead of Valentino Rossi who despite finishing ninth, was just 0.432s behind Ben Spies with Hector Barbera only two thousandths of a second further back in tenth. Stefan Bradl was at the back of the leading pack in eleventh with Aleix Espargaro and Randy de Puniet securing a CRT 1-2 for Aspar.

The returning Karel Abraham could only manage 16th, clearly still affected by the broken finger which caused him to miss the British Grand Prix. James Ellison was 19th for Paul Bird Motorsports although he made the biggest improvement of anybody from FP1 to FP2.

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