Casey Stoner back ahead in final Japanese Grand Prix practice

Casey Stoner led the way as Honda's domination continued in third practice for the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi

Casey Stoner back ahead in final Japanese Grand Prix practice

A 1m46.542s lap put the championship leader on top early in the session, and after a quick trip through the gravel, he improved to 1m46.162s five minutes later.

Only Stoner himself would look capable of beating that time, as his team-mates Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso, and Gresini's factory-Honda equipped Marco Simoncelli, battled for the runner-up spot.

Dovizioso finally took it with a lap 0.139 seconds off Stoner's pace right at the end. The Italian had been as low as eighth until some rapid late runs got him ahead of Pedrosa and Simoncelli.

Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo was 0.647s down on Stoner in fifth, and still facing a weekend of desperately chasing the Hondas. Lorenzo's team-mate Ben Spies was in much better shape after yesterday's illness and took sixth.

Valentino Rossi showed encouraging form on the Ducati to grab seventh from Suzuki's Alvaro Bautista right at the end. The second Ducati of Nicky Hayden was just 0.2s slower in ninth, as Pramac Ducati's Randy de Puniet completed the top 10.

Honda guest rider Shinichi Ito managed just seven laps before sliding to the ground at Turn 3. He was unhurt in what proved to be the session's only fall.

Pos Rider Team/Bike Time Gap 1. Casey Stoner Honda 1m46.162s 2. Andrea Dovizioso Honda 1m46.301s + 0.139s 3. Dani Pedrosa Honda 1m46.429s + 0.267s 4. Marco Simoncelli Gresini Honda 1m46.592s + 0.430s 5. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1m46.809s + 0.647s 6. Ben Spies Yamaha 1m46.892s + 0.730s 7. Valentino Rossi Ducati 1m47.161s + 0.999s 8. Alvaro Bautista Suzuki 1m47.202s + 1.040s 9. Nicky Hayden Ducati 1m47.335s + 1.173s 10. Randy de Puniet Pramac Ducati 1m47.514s + 1.352s 11. Hector Barbera Aspar Ducati 1m47.648s + 1.486s 12. Colin Edwards Tech 3 Yamaha 1m47.666s + 1.504s 13. Hiroshi Aoyama Gresini Honda 1m47.695s + 1.533s 14. Toni Elias LCR Honda 1m48.157s + 1.995s 15. Cal Crutchlow Tech 3 Yamaha 1m48.196s + 2.034s 16. Karel Abraham Cardion Ducati 1m48.543s + 2.381s 17. Kousuke Akiyoshi LCR Honda 1m49.298s + 3.136s 18. Damian Cudlin Pramac Ducati 1m50.239s + 4.077s 19. Shinichi Ito Honda 1m50.266s + 4.104s 
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Ducati optimistic after Japanese Grand Prix practice

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