Motorcycling: Pedrosa picks up the pace to pip Stoner

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The Independent Online

Dani Pedrosa timed his run to the front row to perfection as he snatched the fastest lap of the first practice session for tomorrow's MotoGP race at Donington.

The Spaniard stole top spot from the Ducati rider Casey Stoner in the final seconds of the hour-long session with a lap of 1min 38.627sec to put his Repsol Honda at the head of the pack.

Stoner, the 2007 world champion, has suffered in recent rounds with illness, originally diagnosed as "mild anaemia", but looked back on form as he led for a long period.

Pedrosa, who is fourth in the standings behind leader Valentino Rossi had looked off the pace but with the track constantly drying out from an earlier downpour he managed to pip Stoner by 0.245sec. Rossi was in third with Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo rounding out the top five. Britain's James Toseland was 12th on the Tech3 Yamaha with a time of 1:40.522.

The day's earlier 125cc practice session was blighted by heavy rain but the track had dried considerably by the time the top nine MotoGP riders crept under the 1m 40sec barrier.

Rossi admitted the weather had made for a difficult session. "These strange conditions are always hard to ride in but it was important that we had some time in the wet because we were able to understand our level," the Italian defending champion said.

"We're quite happy because I felt confident and I was able to be fast."