Stoner sets pace in Australian MotoGP practice

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

The 21-year-old Australian, who clinched his first world title in Japan last month, was over a second quicker on his Ducati than Frenchman Randy De Puniet, with former world champion Valentino Rossi of Italy third fastest.

American John Hopkins, Spain's Dani Pedrosa and Italian Loris Capirossi posted the next quickest times.

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

REUTERS BJR VC1005

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