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MOTOGP NEWS 

Rossi fastest in first practice

Valentino Rossi, Yamaha, Phillip Island 2009Valentino Rossi emerged fastest in the opening free practice session for the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island, beating local hero Casey Stoner to the top spot.

Keen to respond after his poor weekend in Portugal, Rossi took first place from early pacesetter Stoner (Ducati) after a quarter of an hour, and remained on top thereafter. Stoner stayed in second, 0.135 seconds behind, having narrowed the gap in the final minutes.

Equally good news for Rossi was that his Yamaha team-mate and title rival Jorge Lorenzo had a tough afternoon. The Spaniard was a second off Rossi's pace, and his session ended with a minor fall at the Honda hairpin four minutes from the end. That left him sixth.

Dani Pedrosa took third for Honda, pushing Gresini Honda rider Alex de Angelis back to fourth.

The Tech 3 Yamaha riders sandwiched Lorenzo in fifth and seventh. In one of his strongest performances of the season, James Toseland had been in the top six early on, but dropped a few places after falling at MG corner. He pushed the bike across the infield to get back to the pits, then rejoined to reclaim seventh behind Colin Edwards and Lorenzo.

Niccolo Canepa is receiving treatment in the track's medical centre after hurting his right elbow in a heavy crash at the first corner. His Pramac Ducati team-mate Mika Kallio had a much less dramatic fall at the Honda hairpin, and was able to rejoin to take ninth.

Following a wet and windy build-up to the race, the riders had feared that practice would be marred by poor weather. But the skies cleared today and the session took place in near perfect conditions.

Pos  Rider             Bike             Time       Gap
 1.  Valentino Rossi   Yamaha           1m31.032s
 2.  Casey Stoner      Ducati           1m31.167s  + 0.135s
 3.  Dani Pedrosa      Honda            1m31.528s  + 0.496s
 4.  Alex de Angelis   Gresini Honda    1m31.786s  + 0.754s
 5.  Colin Edwards     Tech 3 Yamaha    1m31.846s  + 0.814s
 6.  Jorge Lorenzo     Yamaha           1m32.077s  + 1.045s
 7.  James Toseland    Tech 3 Yamaha    1m32.255s  + 1.223s
 8.  Andrea Dovizioso  Honda            1m32.502s  + 1.470s
 9.  Mika Kallio       Pramac Ducati    1m32.572s  + 1.540s
10.  Loris Capirossi   Suzuki           1m32.606s  + 1.574s
11.  Nicky Hayden      Ducati           1m32.771s  + 1.739s
12.  Randy de Puniet   LCR Honda        1m32.808s  + 1.776s
13.  Toni Elias        Gresini Honda    1m33.304s  + 2.272s
14.  Marco Melandri    Hayate Kawasaki  1m33.422s  + 2.390s
15.  Chris Vermeulen   Suzuki           1m33.504s  + 2.472s
16.  Gabor Talmacsi    Scot Honda       1m33.818s  + 2.786s
17.  Niccolo Canepa    Pramac Ducati    1m34.546s  + 3.514s

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