Stoner on top in Estoril
Australian clocks quickest in Friday practice
Last Updated: May 4, 2012 6:39pm
Casey Stoner: Has never won Moto GP at Estoril
Casey Stoner set the fastest time in practice for the Portuguese Grand Prix at Estoril on Friday.
The Australian followed up his Spanish Grand Prix victory with a lap of one minute 38.396 seconds aboard his Repsol Honda.
Stoner edged out Yamaha's Ben Spies to claim top spot after the American had been quickest during the damp morning session.
Spies was on the pace again in the dry afternoon running, beating his team-mate and championship leader Jorge Lorenzo for the first time this season.
But the 26-year-old Stoner brabbed the lead late on at the only circuit on the MotoGP calendar where he has not won in the premier class.
Spies performance will be a majo boost for the American rider, who has endured an awful beginning to the season, managing only 11th place finishes in Qatar and Spain.
Britain's Cal Crutchlow maintained his excellent start to 2012, clocking the third best on his Tech 3 Yamaha.
The Coventry rider has two fourth-placed finishes to his name this year and looks set for another strong weekend as he matched the leading challengers.
Crutchlow was just 0.3secs off Stoner's ultimate pace as he edged Dani Pedrosa and Lorenzo into fourth and fifth places respectively.
"I'm happy with the way we have started this weekend," said a delighted Crutchlow.
"This morning was similar to the first session in Jerez and we couldn't really learn anything with the track being so damp in parts.
"We never changed the tyres from this morning to the afternoon and that is a big plus. For that reason I'm really happy with the pace I was able to set, especially because we know that some other guys did put in a new tyre at the end to go a bit quicker.
"We were just concentrating on working on the race set-up and we still have plenty of margin to improve. The first two races have given me a lot of confidence and I am looking forward to carrying on the good start this weekend."
Alvaro Bautista was next up on the Gresini Honda but it was another difficult day for Ducati as Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi wound up in seventh and ninth positions.
Hector Barbera was a solid eighth on the Pramac Ducati, with Crutchlow's team-mate Andrea Dovizioso rounding out the top 10.
Randy de Puniet was the quickest of the new-for-2012 CRT machines in 13th on his Aspar Aprilia.