Dani Pedrosa fastest at day one Qatar test

Dani Pedrosa set the pace on the opening night of testing in Qatar

Dani Pedrosa set the pace on the opening night of testing in Qatar

Honda has underlined its strong pre-season form with Dani Pedrosa edging Casey Stoner in the opening night of pre-season testing in Qatar.

The final preparations of the 2011 MotoGP pre-season commenced at the Losail International Circuit overnight, as the premier class completed the first of two days of night-time Testing at the track which will host the opening round of the season this weekend.

Under the floodlights it was Pedrosa who was fastest with a best lap of 1:56.271, an effort which left him top of the day one timesheet by the close of play at 11pm local time. The Repsol Honda rider set out in search of his set-up for the Qatar GP, and also tested new suspension, a workload which appeared to go smoothly judging by his lap time.

Just 0.143 of-a-second behind was Stoner, the man who had been fastest at the previous Test at Sepang. Stoner, like his team-mate and the majority of the 17 MotoGP riders present, worked on his race set-up and also his riding position, and posted a best time of 1:56.414 by the end of the day.

Completing an all-Honda top three was San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Hiroshi Aoyama. The Japanese rider spent the early part of the session assessing the track conditions, and found his rhythm soon enough with a best time of 1:56.444 on his 30th of 59 laps, just three-hundredths behind factory man Stoner.

Nearly three-tenths of-a-second off the fastest time was factory Yamaha Racing rider Ben Spies (1:56.563), with team-mate and World Champion Jorge Lorenzo fifth. The American focused his energies on chassis geometry and electronics, and will run a tyre test later this evening. Lorenzo sought to improve the rear grip on his factory M1, and was 0.411s down on rival Pedrosa by the end of the day.

Colin Edwards did a tyre test to coincide with the race time later in the evening and the American was just under five-tenths off the top spot. The final rider under the 1:57 barrier was the third Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso with a 1’56.780, working on electronic mapping and trying to overcome the mid-corner problem he had last time out at Sepang.

Valentino Rossi and his Ducati Team colleague Nicky Hayden were the only two Desmosedicis inside the top ten on day one. The pair both ran two bikes, each with a different setting, to decide by the end of the day which base setting to go with. Hayden closed out at 0.866 of-a-second off the top spot, whilst Rossi survived a fall at Turn 9 after the opening hour to return to the track and register a 1:57.038 on his 57th and final turn, which left him 0.767 of-a-second off Pedrosa and in eighth spot. The Italian’s team had already ruled out testing the flex chassis and 42mm Öhlins forks prior to the start, based on the feedback provided by Hayden’s team.

Testing at Losail will continue later tonight.

Qatat Test : Day 1

Pos Rider Team Fastest lap Lead. Gap Laps
1 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda Team 1:56.271 41
2 Casey Stoner Repsol Honda Team 1:56.414 +0.143 32
3 Hiroshi Aoyama San Carlo Honda Gresini 1:56.444 +0.173 59
4 Ben Spies Yamaha Factory Racing 1:56.563 +0.292 38
5 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Factory Racing 1:56.682 +0.411 60
6 Colin Edwards Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1:56.742 +0.471 42
7 Andrea Dovizioso Repsol Honda Team 1:56.780 +0.509 56
8 Valentino Rossi Ducati Marlboro Team 1:57.038 +0.767 57
9 Nicky Hayden Ducati Marlboro Team 1:57.137 +0.866 57
10 Randy De Puniet Pramac Racing Team 1:57.143 +0.872 39
11 Marco Simoncelli San Carlo Honda Gresini 1:57.226 +0.955 57
12 Alvaro Bautista Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1:57.302 +1.031 61
13 Hector Barbera Mapfre Aspar Team 1:57.325 +1.054 69
14 Loris Capirossi Pramac Racing Team 1:57.437 +1.166 56
15 Karel Abraham Cardion AB Motoracing 1:57.499 +1.228 49
16 Cal Crutchlow Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1:57.737 +1.466 51
17 Toni Elias LCR Honda MotoGP 1:58.250 +1.979 65

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