Qatar : MotoGP – Free practice 1
Continuing the excellent form shown during winter tests, Fiat Yamaha's Colin Edwards was the man on pace in the opening Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar MotoGP practice session, which took place in perfect weather conditions at the Losail
International circuit this morning.
Edwards' best lap of 1'56''665 was him top the timesheets in the FP1 session on board his Yamaha YZR-M1 800cc, newly emblazoned with the colours of new sponsor Fiat.
The American went round 0.122 quicker than team-mate and many people's title favourite Valentino Rossi, while the young Australian Casey Stoner ended up sitting in between the Yamaha pair on the timesheets, showing good pace again on his Ducati Desmosedici GP07. The trio were the only riders to dip under the 1'57 mark during the session.
Last year Stoner achieved his first ever pole position at the Losail circuit and on this form will be hoping for a decent point tally in the opening MotoGP race of the season on Saturday.
In fourth place on the first FP timesheet of the year was experienced Spaniard Carlos Checa, the Honda LCR rider lapping just ahead of fellow veteran Loris Capirossi.
Despite admitting this week that he will be riding in pain in Qatar with a wrist injury, sustained at the same venue during an Official Test visit three weeks ago, John Hopkins was the session's sixth quickest participant and was well over a second quicker than team-mate Chris Vermeulen, who was way down in 14th place.
Marco Melandri's best time saw him finish seventh, ahead of Shinya Nakano, Dani Pedrosa and Alex Hofmann who completed the top ten.
World Champion Nicky Hayden will hope to lap far quicker in the afternoon session after recording only the 16th quickest best time, as will the 17th placed Olivier Jacque, who slipped off track at one point but continued the session without any great hindrance.
DORNA / CAPSIS International