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Stoner sets the pace at Phillip Island

Casey Stoner fastest during Friday practice (2) for the Australian MotoGP at Phillip Island.

Casey Stoner's quest for a fifth consecutive home Australian MotoGP victory began in near faultless fashion as the Repsol Honda rider led both of Friday's free practice sessions at Phillip Island.

Stoner's only error was a small fall this morning, when he went on to finish 0.269sec ahead of title rival Jorge Lorenzo.

The 2007 world champion then extended his advantage to 0.377sec over Marco Simoncelli in FP2, despite lapping slightly slower.

Stoner, who will be 26-years-old on Sunday, can wrap up the 2011 title this weekend, if he scores ten points more than Lorenzo.

Like Stoner, Yamaha star Lorenzo failed to improve on his morning time, but still finished the day in second place (+0.269sec) on combined times.

Honda Gresini rider Simoncelli fell in both sessions, but set his best time of the day in the afternoon for third overall - and was the final rider within one-second of Stoner's best.

Monster Yamaha Tech 3's Colin Edwards claimed a strong fourth overall, courtesy of his morning time, having been ninth in the afternoon.

Lorenzo's Factory Yamaha team-mate Ben Spies moved in the opposite direction, improving from eighth in the morning to fourth in the afternoon, placing the Texan fifth overall.

The remaining places in the combined top ten were taken by Stoner's team-mates Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa, Simoncelli's team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama, the top Ducati of Nicky Hayden and Pramac Ducati's Randy de Puniet.

Eleventh overall went to Suzuki's Alvaro Bautista, at the GSV-R's toughest track, with rookie Cal Crutchlow twelfth for Tech 3 and Valentino Rossi just 13th for Ducati (+1.539sec).

Australian Damian Cudlin is making his second MotoGP appearance in as many events, this time standing in for Hector Barbera at Aspar Ducati, while Loris Capirossi is returning to action for Pramac Ducati.

Capirossi concluded day one in 14th place, ahead of Karel Abraham (Cardion AB) and Toni Elias (LCR), with Cudlin 3.183sec from Stoner in 17th and last. Reports from Phillip Island suggest that Aspar have been unable to reach an agreement to continue with Ducati machinery next season.

Friday practice (combined):

1. Stoner
2. Lorenzo
3. Simoncelli
4. Edwards
5. Spies
6. Dovizioso
7. Pedrosa
8. Aoyama
9. Hayden
10. de Puniet
11. Bautista
12. Crutchlow
13. Rossi
14. Capirossi
15. Abraham
16. Elias
17. Cudlin

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