CASEY STONER/Ducati Team was the fastest MotoGP rider Friday afternoon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first day of practice at the 2011 Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix. His lap was 1’40:884. The Aussie rider, who was the 2007 MotoGP champion, was 0.225 seconds faster than runner-up, JORGE LORENZO/Fiat Yamaha Team – current points leader. Stoner ran best on the softer option rear tire, while Lorenzo favored the harder option tire.

Stoner commented “We tried the new front fork today that we tested in Brno and it felt good, although this is not the kind of circuit where you can really push so it’s hard to say if I improved the package.” Originally, the new Olin forks weren’t going to be tried on Friday, according to teammate, NICKY HAYDEN.

Hayden, local fave, was third fastest of the 17 riders, despite a fall. He said he’d just put on his soft tire and he was feeling better and “maybe got a little too excited, because that’s when I made a mistake. I was off line a little but I didn’t force it. I just let it go because it’s only the first practice, but ‘bam’! I was down immediately. At least I didn’t do any more damage to the wrist – all I got was a friction burn on my arm from digging it in trying to save the wrist. It’s nothing major though and after finding a good base setting today I’m looking forward to possibly trying the new forks tomorrow.”

Hayden hurt his right wrist after a fall in Brno, but after consulting with Costa for X-rays and scans, and again with his home doctor, it’s been determined that no surgery will needed. Hayden plans on another X-ray in a week or so to see if it’s still healing.

The 2006 MotoGP champion is one of three World Champions in the race. The other is seven-time MotoGP champion, VALENTINO ROSSI/Fiat Yamaha. who finished fifth behind DANI PEDROSA/Repsol Honda Team – who holds the qualifying track record of 1’39.730/94 mph/152.kph set last year.

Rossi is also recovering from a hard fall earlier in the year, and is still hurting, although he said “My physical condition is much better here. I so still have some pain, but it’s not so bad so I am not worried.”

The Texan Twosome, Monster Yamaha Tech 3 teammates, COLIN EDWARDS and BEN SPIES, finished sixth and eleventh. respectfully.

The top Rookie, of six in the field, was ALEIX ESPARGARO/Pramac Racing Team in ninth place.

The weather was hot – 82 degrees F/28C, while the track was 124F/51C. Skies were blue and cloudless. Bridgestone Tires said it was the hottest it’s ever been for MotoGP at Indy, which made the track slippery. Also the bumpy nature of the circuit caused some issues, which was noted by some of the riders.

The field is comprised of five riders each from Italy and Spain, three from America, and one each from Australia, Finland, France and Japan.

Fans mingled throughout the huge property, sitting on the grassy knolls, checking out all the merchandise and vendors, and patiently sought autographs or sightings outside the very secure garages. The MotoGP garages seemed to me to be even more secure with less visibility than even Formula One garages. With the motorcycles being so small and able to be hidden inside the garage, and no bits and pieces outside, there was nothing at all to be seen unless a door opened.

The Brickyard earlier Friday announced that there was a one year extension of the contract with MotoGP commercial rights holders DORNA Sports. DORNA had “No comment” when asked why the contract was for just one year rather than the usual three. IMS Spokesman couldn’t officially comment on the one year extension, but “It is not because IMS is not committed to MotoGP. DORNA has been a great partner, and IMS wants to make it a long term relationship with MotoGP.