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Stoner sets up qualifying battle with free practice time drop

Stoner sets up qualifying battle with free practice time drop

Ducati Marlboro's Casey Stoner -the 2007 MotoGP World Champion and pacesetter on the opening night in Qatar- earned yet another psychological victory in the final free practice session before tonight's qualifying showdown, recording the fastest time of the weekend so far.

Ducati Marlboro's Casey Stoner -the 2007 MotoGP World Champion and pacesetter on the opening night in Qatar- earned yet another psychological victory in the final free practice session before tonight's qualifying showdown, recording the fastest time of the weekend so far.

The Australian recorded a lap of 1'55.186 in the latter part of the session, after another back-and-forth duel between himself and reigning 250cc World Champion Jorge Lorenzo. Stoner eventually usurped the Fiat Yamaha rookie to head the timesheets for the third successive session in Losail.

Lorenzo looks a good tip to line up on the front row for his MotoGP debut, having clocked the fastest time of the year in Qatar when testing qualifying tyres last week. His 1'54.552 lap of this weekend's Grand Prix venue is the time to beat and, if repeated or improved upon later tonight, would mark a new pole position record for the premier class.

The man who holds the current record is Lorenzo's team-mate Valentino Rossi, who made significant strides in the third practice session. The Italian joined Stoner and fourth placed San Carlo Gresini Honda rookie Alex de Angelis as one of three riders using Bridgestone tyres in the top six, a boost for the Japanese factory after Michelin's mass representation yesterday.

Tech 3 Yamaha rider Colin Edwards and JiR Team Scot debutante Andrea Dovizioso completed said top six, ahead of Dani Pedrosa, Chris Vermeulen, Randy de Puniet and James Toseland. Pedrosa was riding in slightly worse condition than he was before the start of the weekend, courtesy of impact on his already-tender right hand in a crash suffered yesterday.

Tags:
MotoGP, 2008, Commercialbank GRAND PRIX OF QATAR, FP3

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