As the MotoGP Official Night Test came to a conclusion at midnight in Qatar on Tuesday, it was Casey Stoner who sat proudly at the head of the time sheet. This was the last day for the MotoGP field to get practice in the desert night before the season starts, and is the second of three tests planned for the 2009 season. The next outing for the MotoGP riders is the Official MotoGP Test at the Jerez circuit in southern Spain which takes place on 28th & 29th March. MotoGP will then return to Qatar for the first Grand Prix of the year on 10th-12th April.
Stoner’s best effort of 1’55.744 was recorded shortly after 9pm on the 22nd of his 31 turns under the floodlights, the Australian completed far fewer laps than any of his rivals. Casey did crash without consequence on turn two around ten minutes after setting his best time, but was back out on track within an hour. Stoner had been testing electronics settings to match the new carbon fiber swingarm Ducati is using on the GP9, and decided to call it a day at 11pm, after the track began to lose grip as it cooled.
Jorge Lorenzo was the closest man behind Stoner, but was still almost a full second off the pace, with his best time registered late in the evening. Valentino Rossi completed the top three with a 1’56.972 effort as the only other rider to go round under the 1’57 mark, the Italian satisfied with a new electronics system on the Yamaha M1.
The night was eventful with crashes for Capirossi on turn 6, Niccolo Canepa at turn 13 and Yuki Takahasi at turn 3, but all three riders were reportedly unhurt.
Nicky Hayden fans will be relieved to see that Hayden’s hard work is starting to pay off, as he closed the gap on the front runners. Hayden’s fastest lap was just 0.001 off Vermeulen’s time, and a quarter of a second slower than Valentino Rossi. More importantly, he improved his own times by over a second, leapfrogging over a bunch of riders who had been ahead of him. Nicky could finally be getting to grips with the difficult but fast Ducati.
Results of Day 3 at the MotoGP Qatar Test:
|Pos.||Rider||Bike||Time||Fast Lap||Total Laps|
|7||Randy de Puniet||Honda||1’57.401||44||77|
|10||Alex de Angelis||Honda||1’57.591||57||61|
Current lap record is held by Casey Stoner who set it in the 2008 race, with a lap of 1′55.153