Rossi fastest, Lorenzo falls at Phillip Island.

 Valentino Rossi has dominated Friday free practice for the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island, while Fiat Yamaha team-mate and title rival Jorge Lorenzo crashed with five minutes to go. 

    Rossi, who holds a reduced 18 point lead over Lorenzo with three rounds remaining, replaced home hero Casey Stoner at the top within 15 minutes and was undisturbed thereafter.

    The Italian completed 31 laps, more than any other rider, and finished over one second clear of Lorenzo.

    Lorenzo - who took his fourth win of the season last time at Estoril, while Rossi struggled to fourth - spent much of the session in fifth, before a lowside at the hairpin in the closing minutes saw him lose a further position on the final classification.

    Stoner, a home winner at Phillip Island for the past two season, was Rossi's nearest rival. The Ducati star closing to within 0.135sec of The Doctor on his 22nd and final lap of the session.

    Dani Pedrosa was almost half a second slower than Rossi in third for Repsol Honda, while Alex de Angelis was on fire for San Carlo Honda Gresini to be the top satellite rider in fourth.

    Colin Edwards worked his way steadily up the timesheets to snatch fifth position for Monster Yamaha Tech 3 and be the final rider within one second of Rossi.

    Team-mate James Toseland, who enjoyed arguably the best race of his MotoGP career by re-passing Rossi on his way to sixth in last year's Australian Grand Prix, was also on-form from the start of the session - but lowsided from his M1 while holding sixth just after the midway point.

    The Englishman gamely pushed his bike back to the pits and returned to claim seventh place, just ahead of Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda).

    Mika Kallio also recovered from a low speed fall to claim ninth for Pramac Ducati, but team-mate Niccolo Canepa was less fortunate - falling in far more spectacular style at the fast first turn just after the halfway stage. 

    The Italian, making his first and last MotoGP appearance at Phillip Island, hurt his right arm in the incident and went to the medical centre for treatment.

    Loris Capirossi was the top Suzuki rider in tenth position, with Nicky Hayden - who claimed his final Honda podium at last year's Australian GP - eleventh after surviving a big slide into turn one on the second factory Ducati.

    Valentino Rossi: A great start. 

    Having failed to lead a single track session last time out at Estoril, Valentino Rossi began the Australian Grand Prix in dominant form during Friday practice at Phillip Island - while his team-mate and title rival Jorge Lorenzo fell.

    Rossi, who holds a reduced 18 point lead over Lorenzo with three rounds to go, returned to the top of the timesheets after 15 minutes of the hour and was uninterrupted thereafter. 

    Although the reigning six time MotoGP champion's advantage was cut to just 0.135sec by home hero Casey Stoner, on the Ducati star's last lap, Rossi remained almost half a second ahead of third place Dani Pedrosa (Honda) and a crucial 1.045sec clear of Lorenzo in sixth.

    All in all, a good day for the Italian - who is aiming to wrap up his ninth world title in next weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix, thereby avoiding a final round showdown at Valencia.

    "Today we made a great start,” he confirmed. “We were concentrated and strong and I am really happy to start in front here at Phillip Island, which is somewhere that I love to ride. 

    “We were able to get a lot done in the practice session and try many different things and I was able to ride just how I wanted to. 

    “We can definitely improve more - even though we already have a good pace we will continue to work tomorrow and try to find a little bit more, but for the first day I think we can be very happy about our work,” he concluded.

    After heavy rain for the last two days the coastal track was granted a reprieve today as the sun shone brightly throughout the MotoGP session.

    "The weather has helped us today; it's always good to have the first day in the dry,” stated Rossi's Fiat Yamaha team manager Davide Brivio. “Of course now we hope that it stays like this so that we can continue our work tomorrow, but if not then we will be ready for the rain too." 

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