The reigning champion Casey Stoner, who is to retire after this season, proved his mind remains focused as he headed the practice times yesterday for tomorrow's British MotoGP at Silverstone.
The 26-year-old Australian lapped in 2min 4.791sec on his Repsol Honda to put a slender 0.034sec gap between himself and the American Ben Spies, on a factory Yamaha M1. The Spaniard Alvaro Bautista completed the provisional front row on his Honda Gresini.
Jorge Lorenzo, the championship leader, finished seventh fastest on his Yamaha, ahead of Cal Crutchlow in eighth. More significant was that Crutchlow was only 0.783sec slower than Stoner, on a day of wildly changing weather when it was more important to prepare for today's qualifying session rather than risk a pointless crash.
The nine-times world champion Valentino Rossi continued to struggle on the factory Ducati, lapping a huge 2.334sec slower than Stoner. While Crutchlow can realistically achieve his fourth front-row start today, Rossi will struggle to find a set-up to get him on to the second row.