Motorcycling: Stoner continues to dominate as season comes to an end

The MotoGP world champion, Casey Stoner, continued his dominance of the series by setting the quickest time on the opening day of the final round of the season in Valencia yesterday.

The Australian Ducati Marlboro rider was quickest around the Valencia circuit, edging out the best time of Frenchman Sylvain Guintoli who was second on the Tech 3 Yamaha.

Third fastest was the home rider Dani Pedrosa on a Repsol Honda with the Italian Marco Melandri fourth on his final outing for the Gresini Honda team before moving to Ducati next season.

The British rider Chaz Davies, making a guest appearance for the Pramac D'Antin Ducati squad, suffered a heavy crash during the first of the day's two practice sessions. Davies was taken to the local hospital with a wrist injury but was expected to return to the circuit to take part in tomorrow's qualifying.

The Spaniard Hector Faubel and the Hungarian Gabor Talmacsi, his team-mate at Bancaja Aprilia, kept up their title rivalry as they topped the practice times in the 125cc class. Faubel, who trails his team-mate by 10 points in the championship standings going into Sunday's final race, was quickest with Talmacsi second.

The British riders Bradley Smith (Repsol Honda) and Danny Webb (De Graaf Honda) were 15th and 26th respectively. Despite struggling, Smith was confident of improving his starting grid position in tomorrow's second qualifying session.

"We have worked very hard on setting up the bike and have not worried too much about the lap times," said Smith, who leaves Repsol Honda for Polaris World Aprilia next season.

"We have a few small changes to make to the suspension but generally we are pleased with our first day's work."

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