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MOTOGP NEWS 

Casey Stoner stays on top in final Australian Grand Prix practice

Casey Stoner Honda 2011 Australian GRand Prix

Casey Stoner picked up where he left off on Friday afternoon by going fastest in the final practice session for the Australian Grand Prix by a huge margin.

The Honda rider, who has an outside chance of wrapping up his second world title in front of his home crowd, hit the front with a little over half of the 45-minute session to go at Phillip Island in 1m31.279s and just kept getting faster.

While that initial pace-setting time, and subsequent others, were set on hard tyres, a switch to a softer front Bridgestone allowed him to improve his speed considerably in a session that proved slower than the previous day's due to high winds at the track.

He really picked up his pace with six minutes left and ended the session with a benchmark time of 1m30.550s.

While the Australian completed four successive laps inside the 1m30s, nobody else was able to dip below 1m31s. Stoner's only title rival Jorge Lorenzo, who led proceedings for much of the first half of the session, was second fastest, the world champion 0.640s down on his Yamaha.

Stoner's team-mate Dani Pedrosa was the only man to improve on his Friday pace in third, while Marco Simoncelli recovered from a crash at MG corner - his third such fall of the weekend - to put his Gresini Honda fourth.

Ben Spies was fifth for Yamaha with Andrea Dovizioso making it all three of the factory Hondas inside the top six.

Randy de Puniet, who had traded the top spot with Lorenzo early on, was an impressive seventh on his Pramac Ducati - the Frenchman well ahead of the works bikes of Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi in ninth and 12th.

Alvaro Bautista was eighth for Suzuki with Colin Edwards completing the top 10 on his Tech 3 Yamaha.

Damian Cudlin suffered a bizarre highside while tipping his Aspar Ducati into the Honda hairpin inside the opening few minutes of the session. He was taken to the medical centre to have a suspected hip injury checked out.

Pos  Rider             Team/Bike       Time       Gap
 1.  Casey Stoner      Honda           1m30.550s
 2.  Jorge Lorenzo     Yamaha          1m31.190s  + 0.640s
 3.  Dani Pedrosa      Honda           1m31.465s  + 0.915s
 4.  Marco Simoncelli  Gresini Honda   1m31.687s  + 1.137s
 5.  Ben Spies         Yamaha          1m31.753s  + 1.203s
 6.  Andrea Dovizioso  Honda           1m31.791s  + 1.241s
 7.  Randy de Puniet   Pramac Ducati   1m32.162s  + 1.612s
 8.  Alvaro Bautista   Suzuki          1m32.317s  + 1.767s
 9.  Nicky Hayden      Ducati          1m32.334s  + 1.784s 
10.  Colin Edwards     Tech 3 Yamaha   1m32.474s  + 1.924s
11.  Hiroshi Aoyama    Gresini Honda   1m32.488s  + 1.938s
12.  Valentino Rossi   Ducati          1m32.780s  + 2.230s
13.  Loris Capirossi   Pramac Ducati   1m32.883s  + 2.333s
14.  Cal Crutchlow     Tech 3 Yamaha   1m32.898s  + 2.348s
15.  Karel Abraham     Cardion Ducati  1m33.199s  + 2.649s
16.  Toni Elias        LCR Honda       1m33.406s  + 2.856s
17.  Damian Cudlin     Aspar Ducati    1m39.777s  + 9.227s

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