Reigning MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner has set the fastest time of the first practice session at the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar, the opening round of the 2012 championship.
Under the lights at Losail, the Repsol Honda rider set the benchmark time of 1:56.474 in the opening 45-minute session of the weekend aboard the new 1000cc machines.
The Australian did not have it all his own way, as the leading spot changed hands a few times in the closing minutes of the session, Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing) being one rider who led before settling in second at just 0.174s off Stoner with a 1:56.648.
“The track tonight wasn’t so bad, I expected the conditions to be much worse but in general it was OK,” said Stoner.
“We started this evening with huge chatter issues and I was a little afraid we couldn’t fix this but after a few more exits we managed to reduce it to a more comfortable level.
“This is a positive point for the weekend but with such a short session and then nothing until tomorrow it’s slightly strange. It was an OK start tonight, we finished quickest which is good but we’ll have to wait until tomorrow for some real track time and with the conditions a little better and see where we are.”
Making it three different bikes in the top three Nicky Hayden rode his factory Ducati to a best time of 1:56.924, whilst Ben Spies on the second Yamaha Factory Racing machine was fourth and the final rider under 1:57”.
Dani Pedrosa (Respol Honda) was just under seven-tenths of a second off his team-mate Stoner as the Spaniard ended the session fifth, and Cal Crutchlow put in an impressive showing on his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine to secure the highest satellite position of sixth in a time of 1:57.395. The Brit was also the final rider to get inside a second off Stoner’s benchmark.
Álvaro Bautista (San Carlo Honda Gresini), Andrea Dovizioso (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Héctor Barberá (Pramac Racing), all riding for new teams in 2012, and Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) completed the top ten. The Italian was fractionally under a second off his team-mate Hayden.
The MotoGP bikes return to the track on later tonight for their second and third practice sessions.
COMMERCIALBANK GRAND PRIX OF QATAR : Free Practice #1
|1||1||Casey Stoner||AUS||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||1:56.474|
|2||99||Jorge Lorenzo||SPA||Yamaha Factory Racing||Yamaha||+ 0.174|
|3||69||Nicky Hayden||USA||Ducati Team||Ducati||+ 0.450|
|4||11||Ben Spies||USA||Yamaha Factory Racing||Yamaha||+ 0.508|
|5||26||Dani Pedrosa||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||+ 0.656|
|6||35||Cal Crutchlow||GBR||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||+ 0.921|
|7||19||Alvaro Bautista||SPA||San Carlo Honda Gresini||Honda||+ 1.038|
|8||4||Andrea Dovizioso||ITA||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||+ 1.073|
|9||8||Hector Barbera||SPA||Pramac Racing Team||Ducati||+ 1.438|
|10||46||Valentino Rossi||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||+ 1.440|
|11||17||Karel Abraham||CZE||Cardion AB Motoracing||Ducati||+ 1.465|
|12||6||Stefan Bradl||GER||LCR Honda MotoGP||Honda||+ 2.460|
|13||14||Randy de Puniet||FRA||Power Electronics Aspar||ART||+ 3.511|
|14||5||Colin Edwards||USA||NGM Mobile Forward Racing||Suter||+ 3.570|
|15||51||Michele Pirro||ITA||San Carlo Honda Gresini||FTR||+ 3.848|
|16||41||Aleix Espargaro||SPA||Power Electronics Aspar||ART||+ 4.246|
|17||22||Ivan Silva||SPA||Avintia Blusens||BQR-FTR||+ 4.664|
|18||54||Mattia Pasini||ITA||Speed Master||ART||+ 4.787|
|19||68||Yonny Hernandez||COL||Avintia Blusens||BQR-FTR||+ 4.802|
|20||9||Danilo Petrucci||ITA||Came IodaRacing Project||Ioda||+ 4.878|
|21||77||James Ellison||GBR||Paul Bird Motorsport||ART||+ 6.947|