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Lower cylinder category testing steps out into the light in Qatar

Lower cylinder category testing steps out into the light in Qatar

The premier class riders having vacated the Losail International Circuit after two nights of testing, it is now the turn of the 250cc and 125cc competitors to have their time in the spotlight.

The premier class riders having vacated the Losail International Circuit after two nights of testing, it is now the turn of the 250cc and 125cc competitors to have their time in the spotlight. Said spotlight is this time the Musco lighting system, and the test marks the first time any member of the lower cylinder category grids have ridden at night in Qatar.

With no less than 55 riders on track in a combined opening session, the debut appearance of the minor classes marked the biggest test to date for the Losail floodlights, which have been arduously designed to minimise shadowing. Following separate runs for each cylinder class, the momentous representation will be repeated in a final 1 hour 40 minute session lasting until midnight.

Topping the timesheets on the historic opening two-stroke session in Qatar was Alvaro Bautista, a rider renowned for thriving on new conditions. The Spaniard, an expected 2008 title challenger, clocked a time of 2'01.56 at the end of the first run.

Just over three tenths of a second behind Bautista was fellow countryman Hector Barbera, the red spots-on white background design resplendent on his factory-supported Aprilia bike's livery and brand new leathers perhaps creating a more dazzling effect on other riders than the track illumination. The duo were the only two riders to go round in under 2'02 in the first session.

The Metis Gilera pairing of Marco Simoncelli and Roberto Locatelli also had a positive start to the night, in third and fourth place respectively on the timesheets. The return of Locatelli, after what he hopes was a final operation on the leg injury suffered last year in Jerez, was a positive sign not just for the Italian but for the entire MotoGP paddock, and few would begrudge him a repeat of his 2006 race performance in Qatar next weekend.

Polaris World's 250cc debutant Mattia Pasini completed the top five, ahead of Red Bull KTM's Hiroshi Aoyama. The KTM riders (Aoyama and team-mate Mika Kallio) have been the men to beat thus far in 2008, although both the Austrian factory's representatives have not had the best time in Qatar as of late. Kallio was forced to retire from his maiden 250cc race last year, whilst Aoyama suffered a crash that badly injured his finger. Thus far the duo have had a slow start, with Kallio outside the top ten at his first night test session.

Alex Debon, Thomas Luthi, Hector Faubel and Yuki Takahashi completed the 250cc class top ten as of 7.50pm local time.

In 125cc, Frenchman Mike di Meglio held the early advantage in the combined session. The Derbi rider was over half a second faster than nearest rival on the lap charts Nico Terol, promisingly showing some early superiority over reigning World Champion and last year's poleman Gabor Talmacsi. The 125cc class continue out on track in their own session directly following the combined run.

Tags:
250cc, 2008

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