Stoner sets pace in Australian GP practice

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PHILLIP ISLAND, Australia, Oct 12 (Reuters) World champion Casey Stoner shrugged off a fall to set the fastest time in rain-hit practice today for the Australian MotoGP.

The 21-year-old Australian, who clinched his first world title in Japan last month, clocked a time of one minute 31.286 seconds in the second session, 0.269 quicker than Italian Marco Melandri. Spain's Dani Pedrosa was third fastest.

Stoner was unhurt after falling off his Ducati at a corner, returning to the track following a rain break.

In the morning session, Stoner was over a second quicker than Frenchman Randy De Puniet, with former world champion Valentino Rossi of Italy third fastest.

Stoner will be bidding for his ninth victory of the season in Sunday's race, the 16th of the year.

Spain's Jorge Lorenzo set the pace in 250cc qualification and Hungarian Gabor Talmacsi was quickest in the 125cc category, both riding Aprilias.

REUTERS BJR VC1310

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