Dovizioso 4th Quick, Pedrosa 11th
The first hour of free practice for the Grand Prix of Qatar took place at the Losail Circuit this evening as the 2010 MotoGP roared into life. After making useful progress through session, Repsol Honda riders Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa
lay in 4th and 11th places when the chequered flag waved at 11.30pm to bring the opening session of the year to a close.
Dovizioso, who begins his second season with the factory Honda squad, underlined the ever-improving potential he showed through the winter test period by finishing in the top four tonight. The Italian and his crew started working from the base machine settings they established at the test held at this circuit three weeks ago and, in lower grip conditions, he was able to set a laptime of 1m 56.698s, which was 1.198s behind today's fastest time set by Casey Stoner. Dovizioso's Honda RC212V was quickest through the Losail speed trap tonight with a fastest recorded speed of 319.1kmh (198.2mph), and the 24-year-old is confident that he can advance his set-up tomorrow and move closer to the front riders in terms of lap time too.
His team-mate Dani Pedrosa finished tonight's session a fraction over four tenths of a second behind Dovizioso and also promised a move closer to the front in tomorrow's two sessions. The Spanish rider had some positive results from a slightly modified chassis he was using and, with more track time, is cautiously confident there is more to come through the weekend. Another hour of practice ahead of tomorrow's qualifying session will be followed by Sunday's floodlit race, which is set to start at 23:00hrs.
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO -- 4th -- 1m 56.698
"I'm confident after this first session, and I think we can build on this. We started with the same base set-up from the test here, but actually the track conditions were different and there was less grip tonight. We also discovered some small issues that didn't allow us to use all the potential of the bike so I'm sure we can get quicker. We tried a slightly modified swingarm tonight and we felt a small improvement with it, so we'll use that tomorrow as well. Stoner's lap time is very fast and our gap to the front is still big but anyway we need to analyse what we've learned from this session and use it to move further forward in tomorrow's sessions. Our target for tomorrow is to lap in the low 1m 56s."
DANI PEDROSA -- 11th -- 1m 57.133
"Well, we made some progress in this session and there are some modifications that we tried that improved the feeling a little bit. We should be able to continue with that through the weekend, though today we had a couple of issues with the machine which meant we lost some testing time and didn't make as much progress as we could have done. My finishing position isn't great today but the team is pushing very hard and we'll continue that way. We remain optimistic for the two practice sessions tomorrow. Our lap times today were about the same as the test here three weeks ago so we'll be looking to make a big improvement tomorrow and confirm the direction we're going in."
TOSHIYUKI YAMAJI - REPSOL HONDA TEAM MANAGER
"So the 2010 season has begun and the Repsol Honda Team is glad to be back on track at Qatar for the first race of the year. We have started the season with a useful first practice session here and we can move forward from this base through the weekend. Andrea did a good job again today and, with a few modifications to the settings of his machine, he can get closer still to the front - as he was here during testing. Dani also made some progress today and if we can iron out a few problems for him, we're sure there's more to come in tomorrow's two sessions. The Team is working very hard and that's how it will continue."