Yamaha on top in Qatar on day one

Yamaha on top in Qatar on day one

Fiat Yamaha Team riders dominated day one of activity on the Losail International Circuit in Doha, Qatar, where the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix (MotoGP) starts its 2007 season this weekend. Valentino Rossi. Photo by ...

Fiat Yamaha Team riders dominated day one of activity on the Losail International Circuit in Doha, Qatar, where the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix (MotoGP) starts its 2007 season this weekend.

Valentino Rossi.
Photo by Yamaha Factory Racing.

"It was a very good beginning for all of the team; it's a new season and we have a new sponsor and livery so it's good to start with both Colin (Edwards) and I at the top!," expressed Valentino Rossi.

On track with his new team livery for the first time, Rossi took the session by the scruff of the neck early on, laying down a time of 1'56''464 and then remained unchallenged for the rest of the second practice journey.

"We were in a good situation at the test here also but really the most important test was Jerez, because there we understood a lot more about our bike and we made some important changes," commented the Italian. "It seems here that the setting is very good and we were fast from the start this morning. I'm very happy with my Yamaha today, I can ride it well, I have a good rhythm and it's great fun to ride here in Qatar!"

Colin Edwards, teammate of Rossi in the Yamaha's works team, took second fastest overall with a laptime of 1'56''665 set in the first practice of the day.

"We started off today with the bike set-up pretty similar to Jerez, with just a few small changes, and it seemed to work well from the off. We had a little bit of an issue this morning with a tyre, but we compared notes with Valentino afterwards and sorted that out pretty quickly between us," said Edwards.

The new tyre rule did play a part in today's opening practices as the teams were wary on using their supply up too quickly. With a third practice tomorrow prior to qualifying, many felt it was better to be safe than sorry.

Colin Edwards.
Photo by Yamaha Factory Racing.

"It's the first day of the new tyre rules and it's a little bit scary to know that there's no longer an inexhaustible supply, but we just have to slightly adapt the way we work to accommodate it and I think it will work well in the long run," explained the American rider Edwards. "Here it could be more of an issue because the conditions can be quite changeable from day to day."

Rossi added: "For me, the new tyre rule is very good. Like this you know just what you have from the start, it's much more logical and there is less confusion for everyone. It means we can make decisions more quickly and I think, especially with a delicate bike like ours, that it's going to be helpful to have such a clear situation with tyres from the start of every weekend."

Australian Casey Stoner -- who took the pole here last year -- completed the top three on his new Desmosedici GP7 with 1'56''745, which would come as a little surprise to anyone aware of the Marlboro Ducati rider pedigree in Qatar. Yet for Stoner, this is his debut race with on his ride.

"We found some reasonably good tyres and straight away we were quicker than in testing a few weeks back, plus the track condition is good, so I'm really happy," said Stoner. "This morning and this afternoon I only had one set of tyres each session, so I'm quite happy with tyre life and the way they've performed."

Rizla Suzuki rider John Hopkins came up in fourth position with a time of 1'56''972 making his return from an enforced absence caused by his crash in testing at the circuit last month.

"We're pretty happy with today. The pain level in my hand has been quite high so my pain threshold has had to withstand that all day," admitted Hopkins. "I think this is the first time in my career that I have only used two rear tyres in a whole day!"

Two Spaniards completed top six places with Carlos Checa in a surprising fifth place right ahead of rising star Dani Pedrosa, both under the 1'56'' mark.

Checa was the fastest Honda rider today but as he stated, it was just the first day. "Setting the fastest lap time by Honda rider is not the most important thing, I would prefer to be the fastest Honda rider in top speed. We made positive steps today with braking stability and I feel very good on the bike, better than at the Qatar test last month," he said.

Current World Champion Nicky Hayden had a complicated day struggling during both sessions with the new Honda 800cc. The "Kentucky Kid" finished 15th at 1.458 seconds off of Rossi's time.

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