Estoril : MotoGP – Day One
Ducati Marlboro's Casey Stoner continued his dominant form on the first day of action at the bwin.com Grande Premio de Portugal, as he went round fastest in both free practice sessions at the circuit of Estoril on Europe's Atlantic coast.
could clinch his first World Championship title this weekend with four races to spare and he was again the top man on track on Friday afternoon, though on this occasion was just 0.039s ahead of surprise second fastest rider Makoto Tamada of Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3.
The Japanese rider only managed to get that close to the young Australian ‘champion-elect' with the use of qualifying tyres but it was nonetheless a good confidence booster for the 30 year old who has struggled for consistency this season.
Fiat Yamaha's Valentino Rossi was second fastest on Friday morning, but despite slipping to third in the afternoon he cut down the deficit in terms of his gap to Stoner from 0.312s to just 0.170s, as he goes in search of increased competitiveness this weekend.
Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa improved his morning time by nearly a second to finish the day fourth fastest, just 0.086s ahead of Kawasaki's Randy de Puniet.
Rizla Suzuki's John Hopkins came in sixth with his best time recorded on the last of 23 attempts, to jump in front of Stoner's team-mate Loris Capirossi, while Nicky Hayden was eighth quickest with a time only 0.568s off the pace.
Indeed the entire top ten, completed by Pramac d'Antin's Alex Barros and Tamada's Tech 3 colleague Sylvain Guintoli, lapped within 0.680s of Stoner's best time.
Meanwhile, Carlos Checa of Honda LCR finished twelfth after he suffered his second crash of the day with 15 minutes left on the clock.