Testing was cut short for the first day at Qatar as a rare rainstorm put a hold to the first session under the lights of the MotoGP Official Night Test. At 6pm there were ambient temperatures of 68ºF and track temperatures of 75ºF, but an hour later heavy rain drove the riders off track and back into the shelter of their pit-boxes. Almost half the MotoGP field had not left their garages before the rain arrived, including Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner, and Dani Pedrosa.
Eventually riders went out onto the circuit, lead by Marco Melandri. Fiat Yamaha chose not to return to the track, and retired for the evening depite the fact Rossi and Lorenzo completed only one lap during the test. They were joined by Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner, who opted to fight another day.
“Five minutes of rain really gave us a lot of problems today. First we waited and then finally we decided to abandon it. I hope tomorrow it’s back to normal because this was our worst race last year and we need the time to see where we are and continue to improve with our new package.”
“I went out and on the third lap it started to rain – I couldn’t believe it! It seems strange to have rain in the desert and it’s been a nightmare for the team because we have lost a whole day. I hope it’s better tomorrow because I really want to try the new electronic system and also I need to keep working to improve with the Bridgestone tyres.”
The two riders who recorded the most laps were the two riders who need the work the most: Nicky Hayden and Marco Melandri. Nicky Hayden is still battling to come to terms with the Ducati, which has a rear wheel pump that everyone except Casey Stoner seems to struggle with. Marco Melandri is still to sign his contract for next year, but he put in a fair stint of testing, to try and get a feel for what the bike is like. The team is to be run by technical guru Ichiro Yoda, with former team boss Michael Bartholemy having been pushed aside.
The test is set to continue for two more evenings, in preparation for the MotoGP season opener in April. Hopefully, the weather will improve, and allow everyone to take to the track.
Results after the first night:
|Pos.||Rider||Bike||Time||Fast Lap||Total Laps|
|4||Alex de Angelis||Honda||2’01.074||15||15|
|10||Randy de Puniet||Honda||2’03.580||14||18|
Current lap record is held by Casey Stoner who set it in the 2008 race, with a lap of 1’55.153