Of the available soft and medium compounds brought to Qatar by Bridgestone, Australian Casey Stoner repeated his strong pre-season form to head the field using medium compound tyres. Behind the number 27 Ducati Team rider, Fiat Yamaha's Valentino...
Of the available soft and medium compounds brought to Qatar by Bridgestone, Australian Casey Stoner repeated his strong pre-season form to head the field using medium compound tyres. Behind the number 27 Ducati Team rider, Fiat Yamaha's Valentino Rossi was second fastest and Colin Edwards finished third for Monster Yamaha Tech3.
Conditions for the 45 minute free practice session were as expected of the Qatari region and remained dry. All riders started the session using the soft compound front and soft compound rear Bridgestone slicks, but due to the sand making the surface very abrasive, experienced graining on the rear tyre after approximately 10 laps. All riders changed to the medium compound Bridgestone rear in the second half of the session, and it was on this tyre that each set their fastest lap. Only Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo (Fiat Yamaha) and Niccolo Canepa (Pramac Racing) tried the medium compound front tyre, everybody else completing the short session on the soft front slick.
The race is being run one month later than last year, and as a result the temperature for this evening's free practice was considerably higher for than the same session in 2008. Today's air temperature was 25 degrees Celsius as opposed 15 degrees seen last season, meaning that the medium compound Bridgestone slick worked better.
The entire MotoGP field took to the track for the session, including the injured Dani Pedrosa who battled limited movement in his knee after surgery last month to finish 4.3seconds down on Stoner. Pramac Racing's Mika Kallio was the highest placed rookie, continuing his strong pre-season form to finish seventh fastest on the satellite Ducati GP9 bike.
The field will next venture on track tomorrow night at 1905hrs for the second free practice session.
Tohru Ubukata - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager, Motorcycle Race Tyre Development
"We saw higher temperatures today than last year or during the test in March, so our medium compound tyres worked better. From the test here last month, we expected most teams to choose the medium compound rear this weekend. Only three riders chose the medium front tyre today, but I think that most teams will use medium compound front and rear tyres for the second practice session tomorrow as it is run earlier in the evening so the temperature will be higher again.
"We saw some graining on the soft compound rear tyre as the track surface is very abrasive because of the sand - it is one of elements that makes Qatar a tough circuit for us. We have received good feedback from the medium compound rear though. I expect that after tomorrow's free practice session the riders will already make their decision about which compounds they will choose for the race."