Ahead of competitors again
Winner of the last two MotoGP races at the Losail International Circuit, including last year's historical first ever floodlit Grand Prix, Casey Stoner showed his strength around the 5.38km desert track again on Tuesday night.
time practice visit to Qatar, the second preseason test for the 2009 MotoGP field, ended with Stoner setting the pace just as he did in the opening test of the year in Malaysia in February.
Stoner's best effort of 1'55.744 was recorded shortly after 9pm on the 22nd of his 31 turns under the floodlights, the Australian completing far fewer laps than any of his rivals. The test saw him successfully debut a new carbon fibre swingarm on the Desmosedici GP9, though he was unable to undertake a race simulation and kept to short bursts on track as he rebuilds the strength in his left wrist, which was operated on over the winter.
Stoner crashed without consequence on turn two around ten minutes after setting his best time, but was back out on track within an hour.
Last year's Qatar poleman Jorge Lorenzo (Fiat Yamaha) got closest to Stoner on the timesheet, though he was nearly a full second (0.989s) behind the Ducati rider, with his best time registered late in the evening. Lorenzo's colleague Valentino Rossi completed the top three with a 1'56.972 effort as the only other rider to go round under the 1'57 mark, the Italian satisfied with a new electronics system on the Yamaha M1.
The top five was rounded off by Rizla Suzuki's Chris Vermeulen, his best time arriving on the last of his 70 laps, and Stoner's new team-mate for 2009 Nicky Hayden.
Also featuring in the top ten were Vermeulen's Suzuki colleague Loris Capirossi, fastest Honda representative Randy de Puniet, factory Honda newcomer Andrea Dovizioso, the experienced Colin Edwards and San Carlo Honda Gresini's Alex de Angelis.
There were also crashes for Capirossi on turn six, Niccolo Canepa at turn 13 and Yuki Takahasi at turn three, but all three riders were reportedly unhurt.
The next outing for the MotoGP riders is the Official MotoGP Test at the Jerez circuit in southern Spain which takes place on 28th & 29th March. They will then return to Qatar for the first Grand Prix of the year on 10th-12th April.
Qatar Night Test, Day 3
1. Casey Stoner, Ducati Marlboro Team - 1'55.744 (31)
2. Jorge Lorenzo, Fiat Yamaha Team - 1'56.733 (82)
3. Valentino Rossi, Fiat Yamaha Team - 1'56.972 (75)
4. Chris Vermeulen, Suzuki MotoGP - 1'57.224 (70)
5. Nicky Hayden, Ducati Marlboro Team - 1'57.225 (53)
6. Loris Capirossi, Suzuki MotoGP - 1'57.253 (42)
7. Randy De Puniet, LCR Honda MotoGP - 1'57.401 (77)
8. Andrea Dovizioso, Repsol Honda - 1'57.449 (74)
9. Colin Edwards, Monster Yamaha Tech3 - 1'57.515 (46)
10. Alex De Angelis, San Carlo Honda Gresini - 1'57.591 (61)
11. Toni Elias, San Carlo Honda Gresini - 1'57.804 (66)
12. Mika Kallio, Pramac Racing - 1'57.938 (54)
13. Niccolo Canepa, Pramac Racing - 1'57.946 (50)
14. Yuki Takahashi, Scot Racing Team - 1'58.412 (61)
15. James Toseland, Monster Yamaha Tech3 - 1'58.786 (51)
16. Marco Melandri, Hayate Racing Team - 1'58.851 (73)