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Stoner Leads All Honda Top 3 On French Soil

Casey Stoner was quickest in Friday practice at the French Grand Prix. Photo by MotoGPRepsol Honda's Casey Stoner dominated the first day of action at the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France, posting the fastest time in both free practice sessions.

Stoner topped the first session ahead of his team-mate Dani Pedrosa and Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini) and the same three were up front again in the second free practice session.

The Australian set the fastest lap of 1’33.782 in the afternoon session which was 0.404s faster than Simoncelli and nearly four-tenths quicker than his best time set in the free practice one. The Italian, who was second fastest, has twice finished on the podium in France when racing in the 250cc class, including a win in 2009.

Pedrosa was the only rider unable to improve on his time set in the morning practice, in a session which was much hotter than the conditions in the morning. The Spaniard’s lap time in FP1 was 1’34.431, compared to 1’34.478 set in FP2. The gap between Stoner and Pedrosa’s lap time was 0.696s. Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) produced a late effort to claim the fourth fastest time and finish the highest Ducati. The American secured his best ever finish at the French GP in 2010 when he came fourth as the first Ducati rider across the line. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing) who has won back to back races here at Le Mans in 2009 and 2010, made a big improvement from his first session of the day, by finding half a second in his lap times to finish fifth.

Sixth was Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) who has finished on the podium six times at the Le Mans circuit. The Italian was third in this morning’s session. Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) was seventh and the second fastest Yamaha. The 37 year-old has had a good record at this circuit with two rostrum places here in both 2005 and 2008.

Japanese rider Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini) was eighth in FP2, 1.177s off Stoner’s time, with Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) ninth. The final spot in the top ten went to Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing), whilst local favourite Randy de Puniet (Pramac Racing) was just outside the top ten in eleventh.

Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) making his racing debut at this circuit, as he did in Estoril, crashed at Turn 8 in the last five minutes of the session, but was able to remount. The British rider finished 12th.

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