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Stoner fastest for dominant Ducati

In the 125cc category, Italian Mattia Pasini took provisional pole for Aprilia with Hungary's championship leader Gábor Talmácsi second.

Australian Casey Stoner led a Ducati one-two in MotoGP free practice at the Turkish Grand Prix on Friday. Stoner, winner of the season-opening round in Qatar and nine points adrift of championship leader Valentino Rossi after two races, lapped the Istanbul Park circuit in 1:54.200 with Italian team mate Loris Capirossi next on the afternoon timesheets, 0.779 slower. Suzuki's American John Hopkins was third fastest. American Colin Edwards, riding a Yamaha, had been quickest on a damp track in the morning session with a best lap of 1:57.422 but was only 15th in the afternoon.

Italian teammate Rossi ended the day as the fourth fastest with a lap of 1:55.120. The seven-time world champion had taken no risks in the morning, sitting out the first half of that session before finally venturing out for 10 laps that left him only 17th quickest. None of the riders had previously tested their new 800cc machines at the circuit, one of just three on the calendar that has yet to witness a Rossi victory. "The next two races, Turkey and China, are ones that I don't like so much," Rossi said in a team preview. "I have never won at Istanbul, but it's a great circuit with some very fast corners. If the bike works well, then it will be great fun I think."

The Italian leads the championship with 45 points after winning in Spain last month and finishing second in Qatar. Stoner and Honda's Spaniard Dani Pedrosa have 36. Italian Marco Melandri, winner in Turkey for the past two years, was one of several fallers in the morning along with Stoner. He was unhurt. Honda's world champion Nicky Hayden was 11th in the morning and 14th in the afternoon. Spain's Alvaro Bautista, last year's 125cc champion, took provisional pole for Aprilia in the 250cc first qualifying ahead of Italy's Andrea Dovizioso on a Honda.