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
|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|