Stoner shines in FP1 MotoGP
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda) delivered the goods 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 1’55 752. This was over 0.610 quicker than his nearest rival.
Honda dominated the session with Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) second fastest, but the surprise of the session was Héctor Barberá (Mapfre Aspar Team MotoGP), setting the third quickest lap of the 45 minute session.
All eyes were on the debut of Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) riding on his Desmosedici GP11 for the first time in a competitive session. 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 seconds 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 close the competition is throughout the field in MotoGP.
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.