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Qatar Test lights up: Rossi and Stoner take the initiative

Qatar Test lights up: Rossi and Stoner take the initiative

Two hours into the Test at the Losail International Circuit and all 17 riders of the MotoGP grid are working hard on their prototypes.

By 8pm local time in Doha, just two hours into the opening session of the final pre-season Test in Qatar, Casey Stoner was at the top of the timesheet as the field of MotoGP riders had well and truly got their final preparations for the new campaign underway.

The Ducati Marlboro rider posted a lap time of 1’56.641 as his team opted to remain with the settings both he and team-mate Nicky Hayden used at the previous Test at Sepang to confirm the work done at the Malaysian circuit. The factory team are using identical tyres specs to those from the race in 2009 – which Stoner won – with a soft rear tyre from Sepang which has not been ridden by the duo before at Losail.

Pre-season leader to date Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi was predictably well on the pace at just over a tenth of a second behind Stoner, with Randy De Puniet (LCR Honda) making good early progress as well. Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki) and Rookie team-mate Álvaro Bautista are taking more time to adjust to the new engine in the GSV-R, whilst their box focuses on improving grip. The veteran is already within a half-second of the top time at fourth quickest, whilst his new team-mate is in 12th.

Monster Yamaha Tech3 are concentrating today’s efforts on getting a race set-up for the Qatar GP for riders Ben Spies and Colin Edwards, with a race simulation planned for Friday. The fifth fastest time after two hours for Spies indicates a continued smooth transition to MotoGP.

Returning from his injury enforced lay-off, Jorge Lorenzo is displaying good powers of recovery as he keeps a competitive check on the timesheet, but the main focus for the Spaniard remains regaining his feeling on the M1 of the Fiat Yamaha team after missing the last Sepang Test. Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso was next up and was the final rider within a second of Stoner, as team-mate Dani Pedrosa continues to struggle (13th).

Pramac Racing have not introduced any new changes for Mika Kallio and Aleix Espargaró, and their main intention is to prepare for the race at the track in three weeks. Héctor Barberá (Paginas Amarillas Aspar Team) are working from a base setting from Ducati to allow the Rookie further time to adjust to the track, and the Interwetten Honda MotoGP Team are planning on trying new fork and shock settings as well as different riding positions for Hiroshi Aoyama.

In the attached video update report you can view features on how the teams are going about the set-up of their prototypes for this Test, and also how the dropping night-time temperatures which affect the finely tuned machines are dealt with. There are also interviews with Antonio Jimenez, crew chief for Marco Melandri on the San Carlo Honda Gresini Team, and Bridgestone’s Tyre Development Manager Tohru Ubukata.

MotoGP, 2010

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