Rossi’s champ... but Stoner’s on a mission
VALENCIA, Spain: Australia’s Casey Stoner set the pace in the first free practice session yesterday ahead of tomorrow’s Valencia MotoGP.
The Ducati rider clocked 1min 32.813sec to hold off Spaniards Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa ahead of the season-ending grand prix with world champion Valentino Rossi fourth fastest on his Yamaha.
Stoner, who has won the last two races on his Ducati following a three-event absence due to illness-induced fatigue, dominated the race weekend here in 2008. He secured pole position, set a lap record and won the race. And he is looking for a similar result this year.
“Whether I win or lose this race won’t change much for my season but I’d like to finish the year with a good result,” said Stoner, who is currently third in the world championship ahead of Pedrosa.
“This final meet of the year should above all serve to gather the maximum information for next season,” added the Australian.
Rossi, meanwhile, had the pleasure of riding as world champion after making sure of the 2009 championship by finishing third in the rain-hit Malaysian Grand Prix two weeks ago.
“It’s really great to ride here as world champion and without thinking about points,” said the Italian, who will start testing his new Yamaha bike on Monday.
With the 125cc title also wrapped up by Spain’s Julian Simon, only the 250cc championship remains to be decided with Japan’s Hiroshi Aoyama taking a 21-point lead over Italy’s Marco Simoncelli into the race.
A victory for Aoyama will help salvage a disastrous season for Honda, a year which has seen Yamaha reign as the dominant power in MotoGP, Superbike, Supersport and in Endurance.
And the Japanese rider set the fourth fastest time yesterday with Spaniard Hector Barbera setting the pace for Aprilia. Simoncelli clocked the sixth-fastest time on a Gilera. – Sapa-AFP
FULL TILT: Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi attacks a curve during free practice at Valencia.