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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Inaugural MotoGP practice begins

Friday, September 12, 2008

By STEVE HERMAN

AP Sports Writer

INDIANAPOLIS -- Casey Stoner has been fast all season, when he's kept his bike on the track.

The defending world MotoGP champion is working on a streak of seven straight poles, but he crashed out of the past two races and took a tumble again Friday in the rainy opening round of practice for the inaugural Red Bull Indianapolis GP.

With a steady rain pelting the reconfigured Indianapolis Motor Speedway's 2.6-mile road course almost all day, the 22-year-old Australian went sideways coming out of the first turn, flew over the top of his Ducati motorcycle, landed on his chest and slid down the track just minutes before the end of the first practice session. He wasn't injured.

"The track conditions vary drastically between the old surface and the new," Stoner said. "Grip is good on the old stuff, but there isn't even minimum grip on the recently laid asphalt, and the rain makes it much worse because it isn't draining off."

Unlike the race cars that normally compete at Indy, the motorcycles aren't parked when it rains. The 19 MotoGP riders had two practices, and despite the earlier crash Stoner was back on the track for the second session. Qualifying for Sunday's race will be on Saturday.

"I crashed on the section where the grip is poorest, and that's obviously not good for the wrist, but thankfully it didn't create any major problems," said Stoner, whose left wrist has never healed properly since he broke a bone five years ago. "In general, I'm quite satisfied with how we've started."

Stoner, who trails series leader Valentino Rossi of Italy by 75 points with five races left this season, crashed while leading each of the past two races, the San Marino GP and the Czech GP. He was third-fastest in the opening practice Friday despite the crash, and his quick lap of 83.319 mph stood as third-fastest overall as the rain began falling harder in the afternoon.

Rossi, who has a current streak of three straight wins among his six victories this season, was the fastest in the second session at 81.706 mph, but that was still slower than the top 14 in the first session because of the rain.

Anthony West, a 27-year-old Australian who has never won a race or pole in 38 previous MotoGP starts, was fastest overall at 83.434 mph. Alex De Angeles of Italy was next at 83.348, followed by Stoner, Andrea Dovizioso of Italy at 82.943. John Hopkins of Ramona, Calif., was the fastest of four Americans in the series at 82.935.



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