Reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi continued his domination of the pre-season testing programme in Qatar today, finishing the opening day of the final test 0.3 seconds ahead of Casey Stoner.
His team-mate Jorge Lorenzo made a welcome return from injury to finish the day a creditable seventh and with Ben Spies third and Colin Edwards fourth, it was four Yamahas in the top seven.
Testing began at 6pm under the floodlights at the desert track and Rossi was in command from the word go, finding yet more improvement in the 2010 M1 at what is not generally one of his best tracks. A break for dinner saw both Stoner and Spies better his time but the Italian was determined to finish the day on top and improved again on his last run to regain first place.
Lorenzo missed the last test after breaking his hand and he was unsure how much strength he would have today, but the 23-year-old Spaniard was happy to find himself in better shape than expected and he steadily improved all night. He found the hard braking areas the most difficult but he was able to ride well enough to continue with his interrupted testing regime, and he is hopeful of further improvement tomorrow.
Valentino Rossi Speaks… Position: 1st Time: 1’55.402 Laps: 64
"I am so happy today because this isn’t one of our best tracks and to come here and be fastest shows what a great job Yamaha has done with this new M1. To start with the track was quite slippery but anyway we were still fast, and as the track started to improve I felt better and better."
"We are quite competitive and this gives me a good feeling, and I was happy to make this quick lap right at the end. We still have to decide the right tyre and the best setting for it, and we will keep working on the electronics but the most important thing is that we’re faster than last year! Tomorrow we will continue with our work and try to finalise everything before the race."
Jorge Lorenzo Speaks… Position: 7th Time: 1’56.838 Laps: 45
"It’s really good to be back on my bike and actually when I went out on track the first time today my hand felt better than I had expected. The pain has decreased a lot in the last few days and I’ve been doing a lot of physio to make sure I’m in the best possible shape for this test."
"I was able to do quite a lot of laps today and my time is not so bad in the end, it’s definitely interesting and important to be here and see our level after missing the last test. Dainese have made me a bigger glove and I have some protection on the hand; changing direction is okay, it’s just the hard braking areas where I have some problems. I need more practice but I think we have made a good start."
MotoGP Test Times
1. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Fiat Yamaha Team
2. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati Marlboro Team
3. Ben Spies (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3
4. Colin Edwards (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3
5. Randy de Puniet (FRA) LCR Honda MotoGP
6. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Repsol Honda Team
7. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Fiat Yamaha Team
8. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati Marlboro Team
9. Mika Kallio (FIN) Pramac Green Team
10. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda Team
11. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP
12. Marco Melandri (ITA) San Carlo Honda Gresini
13. Hector Barbera (SPA) Aspar Team
14. Hiroshi Aoyama (JAP) Interwetten-Honda MotoGP
15. Marco Simoncelli (ITA) San Carlo Honda Gresini
16. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) Pramac Green Team
17. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP
Losail: Record Lap
C. Stoner (Ducati) 2008, 1’55.153
Losail: Best Lap
J. Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2008, 1’53.927