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Pedrosa closes Official Test on top in Qatar

Pedrosa closes Official Test on top in Qatar

The first Official Test of 2007 came to a close today in Qatar, with the MotoGP riders bringing their ‘A-game" on the last of three sessions.

The first Official Test of 2007 came to a close today in Qatar, with the MotoGP riders bringing their ‘A-game" on the last of three sessions. Although rain did not directly affect the riders during their time on track, light rainfall overnight after day one left the track in difficult conditions, but still enabled them to put on qualifiers and push to leave the Losail International Circuit at the top of the timesheets.

After a late charge of hot laps, Dani Pedrosa was the fastest rider today, with a scorching time of 1'55.471 building on a promising morning run. The Spaniard was quicker than Casey Stoner's 990cc pole position from 2006, and put Honda on top for the first time after two days of Yamaha dominance.

The second quickest at Qatar, today was nonetheless a bad day for Suzuki's John Hopkins. The first rider to go out on qualifiers, in three-lap bursts, the Anglo-American clocked a time just over three tenths of a second slower than that of Pedrosa. However, a nasty crash before the end of the morning left Hopkins out of the afternoon session, missing next week's Official Test in Jerez and with a fractured scaphoid in his hand. Despite this setback, he is still fully expected to line up alongside the rest of the premier class grid for the first race of the season on March 10th.

Valentino Rossi, winner of last year's Qatar Grand Prix, was the only other rider to break the 1'56 barrier. It is the first time at this test that he has finished above team-mate Colin Edwards, with his fellow factory Yamaha man still a speedy fifth fastest.

Separating the duo was Pramac d'Antin's Alex Hofmann. The German was the fastest of all the Ducati riders for the first time on an 800cc bike, which is an extremely positive step for the team coming after team-mate Alex Barros' impressive outing at Phillip Island.

Rounding off the top six was Kawasaki rider Randy de Puniet, rejoined today by colleague Olivier Jacque after the older of the two Frenchmen sat out yesterday's proceedings. A Ducati trio followed within two tenths of De Puniet, consisting of Loris Capirossi, Casey Stoner and Alex Barros.

After a somewhat discreet test, Marco Melandri picked up the pace on day three, continuing his adaptation to Bridgestone tyres and the 800cc RC212V as he completed the top ten.

World Champion Nicky Hayden was nearly two seconds off team-mate and fastest rider Pedrosa, still lacking fitness after coming back from shoulder surgery. The ‘Kentucky Kid' spent last week in California with doctors analysing his progression, and yesterday suffered two crashes onboard his 2007 bike.

The MotoGP teams head on to Jerez, in preparation for next week's second Official Test. It will be the final chance to fine-tune their 800cc prototypes before they return to the Losail International Circuit next month to kick off what is sure to be an exciting season.

MotoGP Official Test: Qatar
Day 3 Official Times

1. Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda - 1'55.471
2. John Hopkins, Rizla Suzuki - 1'55.825
3. Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory - 1'55.954
4. Alex Hofmann, Pramac d'Antin - 1'56.315
5. Colin Edwards, Yamaha Factory - 1'56.371
6. Randy de Puniet, Kawasaki Racing - 1'56.753
7. Loris Capirossi, Ducati Marlboro - 1'56.807
8. Casey Stoner, Ducati Marlboro - 1'56.834
9. Alex Barros, Pramac d'Antin - 1'56.950
10. Marco Melandri, Honda Gresini - 1'56.980
11. Shinya Nakano, Konica Minolta Honda - 1'56.980
12. Makoto Tamada, Dunlop Yamaha Tech3 - 1'57.232
13. Toni Elias, Honda Gresini - 1'57.246
14. Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda - 1'57.269
15. Chris Vermeulen, Rizla Suzuki - 1'57.365
16. Kenny Roberts, Team Roberts - 1'57.408
17. Carlos Checa, Honda LCR - 1'57.497
18. Sylvain Guintoli, Dunlop Yamaha Tech3 - 1'58.379
19. Shinichi Ito, Ducati TTT - 1'58.974
20. Andrew Pitt, Ilmor GP - 2'00.455
21. Olivier Jacque, Kawasaki Racing - 2'02.081
22. Jeremy McWilliams, Ilmor GP - 2'02.612

MotoGP, 2007, Dani Pedrosa

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