Gadea lights up 125cc Qatar night premiere
The opening night for the 125cc and 250cc riders in Qatar was not only the first two-stroke activity to take place under the momentous lighting project, but also the largest simultaneous night time participation of World Championship
riders to date.
Two combined sessions involving both of the lower cylinder categories sandwiched separate nocturnal runs, with nearly 60 riders on track at any one time. Aside from being a night of firsts, the sessions also served as one of the final opportunities to prepare for the 2008 season, which begins next week at the Losail International Circuit.
On current form, the man best equipped for the March 9th 250cc showdown at sundown is Mapfre Aspar rider Alvaro Bautista, the fastest rider in both the opening session and the overall combined timesheet.
Bautista clocked a quickest lap of 2'00.931 at the Qatari track, a time some way off Jorge Lorenzo's storming pole lap from last season. To be expected under conditions much colder than in 2007's daylight qualifying session, the Mapfre Aspar rider will draw positives from the fact that he was the only rider to break the 2'01 barrier over the duration of the first night's Official Test action.
Pepe Team Toth's Hector Barbera also got off to a good start, three tenths of a second off Bautista's time. The top five at midnight remained the same as after the opening combined session, with Hiroshi Aoyama, Marco Simoncelli and Roberto Locatelli all reaping the benefits of 250cc experience in Qatar. Locatelli suffered a light crash in the separate 250cc session, but continued riding after picking himself up.
Having only recently returned from an operation on a fractured collarbone, Swiss rider Thomas Luthi edged out rookie Mattia Pasini for the final place in the top six, with the duo the final two riders to go round in under 2'02. Yuki Takahashi, Alex Debon and Lukas Pesek completed the fastest ten of the first night under the floodlights, with Red Bull KTM's Mika Kallio strangely subdued after having been 2008's standout performer so far.
Sharing the track with their 250cc counterparts in two of their three appearances on track in Qatar, the 125cc riders had their first chance to ride the Losail International Circuit at night late on Saturday.
Bancaja Aspar rider Sergio Gadea topped the overall standings with a 2'05.982 lap, ahead of Ajo Motorsport's Mike di Meglio.
One of the younger riders in the World Championship, British teenager Danny Webb seemed as comfortable under the Musco lighting system as that of Picadilly Circus in his native London, finishing third fastest on the timesheets.
The DeGraaf Grand Prix rider has highly competitive machinery at his disposal this coming season, and had his best testing performance to date to finish just ahead of Nicolas Terol and Bradley Smith.
World Champion Gabor Talmacsi was only seventh behind Scott Redding on the opening night of the Official Test, at the scene of his first pole position of 2007.
Raffaele de Rosa, Simone Corsi and Stefan Bradl completed the top ten, whilst there were crashes for a selection of lower cylinder category riders. Tomoyoshi Koyama was the first tumbler, coming off his KTM machinery in the joint session, whilst Iannone and the recently operated Esteve Rabat also hit the ground in the 125cc-only affair.
Official Test: Night One -Combined Times – 250cc
1. A. BAUTISTA, Mapfre Aspar - 2'00.931
2. H. BARBERA, Team Toth Aprilia - 2'01.288
3. H. AOYAMA, Red Bull KTM - 2'01.348
4. M. SIMONCELLI, Metis Gilera - 2'01.409
5. R. LOCATELLI, Metis Gilera - 2'01.730
6. T. LUTHI, Emmi Caffe Latte Aprilia - 2'01.848
7. M. PASINI, Polaris World - 2'01.945
8. Y. TAKAHASHI, Scot Racing Team 250 - 2'01.950
9. A. DEBON, Lotus Aprilia - 2'02.423
10. L. PESEK, Auto Kelly CP - 2'02.518
Official Test: Night One - Combined Times – 125cc
1. S. GADEA, Bancaja Aspar - 2'05.982
2. M. DI MEGLIO, Ajo Motorsport - 2'06.286
3. D. WEBB, DeGraaf Grand Prix - 2'06.647
4. N. TEROL, Jack & Jones WRB - 2'06.666
5. B. SMITH, Polaris World - 2'06.683
6. S. REDDING, Blusens Aprilia Junior - 2'06.892
7. G. TALMACSI, Bancaja Aspar - 2'07.102
8. R. DE ROSA, Onde 2000 KTM - 2'07.150
9. S. CORSI, Jack & Jones WRB - 2'07.506
10. S. BRADL, Grizzly Gas Kiefer - 2'07.550
DORNA / CAPSIS International