Casey Stoner sets the pace in Qatar practice

Speedcafe.com

Friday 18th March, 2011 - 5:32am

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Casey Stoner fastest in Qatar MotoGP free practice #1

Repsol Honda rider Casey Stoner has jumped out of the blocks in the first practice session for the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar at the Losail International Circuit.

The Australian brought forward his superb form from the pre-season tests, to the start of the Qatar race weekend and produced the quickest lap time of 1:5 752; six-tenths quicker than team-mate Dani Pedrosa.

Ducati rider Héctor Barberá (Mapfre Aspar Team MotoGP) was a surprise third quickest in the 45 minute session.

Even better for Stoner is that he feels there’s plenty more to come.

“I’d say we’re about 80% complete on the bike package,” he said.

“I did the whole session with the same rear hard tyre and I was happy with it from the beginning to the end, and this is good for the race.

“Finally the season has started, everything has gone fantastic so far but we need to be realistic and keep focused”.

All eyes were on the debut of Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) riding on his Desmosedici GP11. After some disappointing performances in pre-season testing, he finished fifth, just being edged out by fellow Italian, Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini Team).

Current World Champion, Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing) was 0.834 of a second off the fastest time set by Stoner and was one place behind fellow Yamaha Factory Racing team-mate, Ben Spies.

The gap between second and eighth was just 0.230 seconds, showing how quick Stoner was and how close the competition is throughout the rest of the field.

The third Repsol Honda was Andrea Dovizioso who was 8th quickest and next, the Frenchman Randy de Puniet (Pramac Racing) in 9th position, who was making his debut for the team. The final place in the top ten went to American Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3).

MotoGP rookie, Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) finished in 14th after a difficult pre-season test where had suffered a nasty injury to his finger.

 Free practice #1 – Qatar

Pos. Num. Rider Nation Team Bike Km/h Time Gap
1 27 Casey Stoner AUS Repsol Honda Team Honda 323.5 1:55.752  –
2 26 Dani Pedrosa SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 320.4 1:56.362 0.610
3 8 Hector Barbera SPA Mapfre Aspar Team MotoGP Ducati 326.6 1:56.421 0.669
4 58 Marco Simoncelli ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda 320.2 1:56.441 0.689
5 46 Valentino Rossi ITA Ducati Team Ducati 319.8 1:56.479 0.727
6 11 Ben Spies USA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha 317.9 1:56.493 0.741
7 1 Jorge Lorenzo SPA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha 316.7 1:56.586 0.834
8 4 Andrea Dovizioso ITA Repsol Honda Team Honda 321.3 1:56.592 0.840
9 14 Randy de Puniet FRA Pramac Racing Team Ducati 316.4 1:56.790 1.038
10 5 Colin Edwards USA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 321.7 1:56.879 1.127
11 69 Nicky Hayden USA Ducati Team Ducati 321.6 1:56.910 1.158
12 7 Hiroshi Aoyama JPN San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda 320.8 1:56.987 1.235
13 65 Loris Capirossi ITA Pramac Racing Team Ducati 317.3 1:57.366 1.614
14 35 Cal Crutchlow GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 317.2 1:57.429 1.677
15 17 Karel Abraham CZE Cardion AB Motoracing Ducati 322.5 1:57.821 2.069
16 19 Alvaro Bautista SPA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP Suzuki 316.7 1:58.528 2.776
17 24 Toni Elias SPA LCR Honda MotoGP Honda 317.9 1:59.087 3.335

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