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Historic Qatar night test ends with late Lorenzo hot lap

Historic Qatar night test ends with late Lorenzo hot lap

The second and final evening of MotoGP's first ever night test at Losail International circuit ended with Fiat Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo at the head of the timesheet, courtesy of a time of 1'54.552 on the last of his 73 laps in the seven hour session.

The second and final evening of MotoGP's first ever night test at Losail International circuit ended with Fiat Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo at the head of the timesheet, courtesy of a time of 1'54.552 on the last of his 73 laps in the seven hour session.

Earlier, Tech3 Yamaha's James Toseland had been the fastest rider for a sustained period, but reigning 250cc World Champion Lorenzo shaved 0.040s off the Englishman's best effort with minutes remaining in the floodlit practice, to gain a confidence boosting advantage over his rivals - barely a week before the season commences at the same venue.

Having been second fastest on Thursday on race tyres at the desert circuit Lorenzo continued his good work with his late hot lap, nearly half a second faster than the Losail pole position record, having already completed an excellent race simulation with a series of laps in the 1'56 margin – almost matching Casey Stoner's 2007 race winning pace.

Although Lorenzo insists his debut MotoGP season is essentially a learning exercise, his performance in the last test session of the winter means he will go into the season opening Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar next weekend confident of a strong result in his first ever premier class race.

Likewise Briton Toseland has made good progress during his preparations for his long awaited MotoGP bow. Having successfully tested suspension parts, worked with various tyres and of course having adapted to night-time riding in the groundbreaking Losail test, he too should be bursting with anticipation ahead of round one, after missing out on Friday night's top spot by less than a tenth of a second.

Also on the pace in third position - and just 0.381s behind Lorenzo - was Frenchman Randy de Puniet, who has been a strong performer over the winter testing period and appears to be enjoying the Honda-Michelin package at his disposal with his new team Honda LCR.

Toseland's Texan team-mate Colin Edwards was fourth quickest, while Ducati Marlboro's World Champion Casey Stoner completed the top five - the Australian 22 year-old escaping unhurt after an accident on turn two at around 10.30pm local time. After an impressive pre-season the reigning champ is undoubtedly the title favourite and completed just 31 laps before declaring his work was done and being ready and raring to race.

Also featuring in the top ten were Andrea Dovizioso (JiR Team Scot), Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda), Chris Vermeulen (Rizla Suzuki), Alex de Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini) and five-time MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi – who ended the test 1.7s slower than his Fiat Yamaha colleague Lorenzo.

The session was briefly red-flagged at around 9.30pm local time due to debris on track following a crash by Rizla Suzuki's Loris Capirossi at turn seven, but the veteran Italian was unhurt and once the action resumed he was soon back out riding again – eventually lapping eleventh fastest.

In addition to those tumbles by former team-mates Stoner and Capirossi, there were crashes late in the session for the MotoGP title holder's new Ducati colleague Marco Melandri, San Carlo Honda Gresini's Shinya Nakano and Alice Team's Sylvain Guintoli as track temperature dropped to a chilly 13°C. Guintoli's bike was badly damaged and his right arm appeared to be injured, but he was soon given the all clear by doctors onsite.

Indeed, it was that late temperature drop rather than any lack of visibility apparently causing those accidents, so the teams and tyre suppliers Bridgestone and Michelin will aim to ensure they account for similar circumstances in next week's Grand Prix return to Qatar which of course marks the start of the 2008 MotoGP World Championship.

Qatar MotoGP February 2008 night test – day two – best times:
1. J. LORENZO, FIAT YAMAHA, 1'54.552 / 73
2. J. TOSELAND, TECH3 YAMAHA, 1'54.592 / 52
3. R. DE PUNIET, LCR HONDA MotoGP, 1'54.973 / 91
4. C. EDWARDS, TECH3 YAMAHA, 1'55.464 / 50
5. C. STONER, DUCATI MARLBORO, 1'55.485 / 31
6. A. DOVIZIOSO, JiR TEAM SCOT, 1'55.550 / 68
7. N. HAYDEN, REPSOL HONDA TEAM, 1'55.674 / 94
8. C. VERMEULEN, RIZLA SUZUKI, 1'56.119 / 73
9. A. DE ANGELIS, SAN CARLO HONDA GRESINI, 1'56.249 / 60
10. V. ROSSI, FIAT YAMAHA, 1'56.256 / 83
11. L. CAPIROSSI, RIZLA SUZUKI, 1'56.450 / 64
12. J. HOPKINS, KAWASAKI RACING, 1'56.612 / 55
13. D. PEDROSA, REPSOL HONDA TEAM, 1'56.704 / 75
14. S. NAKANO, SAN CARLO HONDA GRESINI, 1'56.792 / 71
15. M. MELANDRI, DUCATI MARLBORO, 1'56.902 / 63
16. T. ELIAS, ALICE TEAM, 1'56.986 / 69
17. S. GUINTOLI, ALICE TEAM, 1'57.055 / 55
18. A. WEST, KAWASAKI RACING, 1'57.459 / 67

Race Record: C. STONER, 1.56.528 (2007)
Qualifying Record: V. ROSSI, 1.55.002 (2007)
MotoGP Official Test Day 1: C. STONER, 1.55.330

Tags:
MotoGP, 2008

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