The 2011 MotoGP season officially kicked off this evening at the Losail race track in Qatar, with the first practice session that will see a four night weekend schedule.
Unsurprisingly enough it was Casey Stoner who dominated the entire practice, leaving the rest of the field to play catch-up and not even making it close.
The new Repsol rider set the blistering pace immediately and his 1’55″752 lap easily broke the 1.
56 marker, that even team mate and rival Dani Pedrosa could do.
Pedrosa ended up second and 0.
610s off the timesheet topper.
There were two big and unexpected surprises in the 45 minute session: that Hector Barbera on the Mapfre Ducati who got a tow (something that he does any time he can, which really pisses off the other riders) from Nicky Hayden, that amazingly landed him in third and and just 0.
059s from Pedrosa.
While the second surprise was the steady climb up the charts from Valentino Rossi who took the fifth spot on his final lap.
Much better than he’s shown all through the pre-season tests, evidently the two days off have helped, but it will be interesting to see if the Italian has the race pace to stick at least to Pedrosa, because Stoner is completely out of orbit.
Lap times from second to the eighth position were very tight, with only two tenths and bit of second separating seven riders.
Fourth went to Marco Simoncelli, with the Yamaha duo ending up 6th and 7th respectively, and Ben Spies again beating team mate and reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo who was followed by third Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso in eighth.
Randy de Puniet was ninth and 1.
038s from Stoner and Colin Edwards completed the top ten.
Nicky Hayden who didn’t get a tow was eleventh and Hiroshi Aoyama 12th.
Loris Capirossi finished 13th, while rookie Cal Crutchlow took 14th after loosing the tip of his little finger during Monday’s pre-season test.
Other rookie, Karel Abraham was 15th, followed by Alvaro Bautista and the still struggling Toni Elias who evidently still has trouble heating up his tires, was again in final spot on the timesheet.
MotoGP Qatar FP1 results:01- Casey Stoner – Repsol Honda Team – Honda RC212V – 1’55.
75202- Dani Pedrosa – Repsol Honda Team – Honda RC212V – + 0.
61003- Hector Barbera – Mapfre Aspar Team – Ducati Desmosedici GP11 – + 0.
66904- Marco Simoncelli – San Carlo Honda Gresini – Honda RC212V – + 0.
68905- Valentino Rossi – Ducati Marlboro Team – Ducati Desmosedici GP11 – + 0.
72706- Ben Spies – Yamaha Factory Racing Team – Yamaha YZR M1 – + 0.
74107- Jorge Lorenzo – Yamaha Factory Racing Team – Yamaha YZR M1 – + 0.
83408- Andrea Dovizioso – Repsol Honda Team – Honda RC212V – + 0.
84009- Randy De Puniet – Pramac Racing Team – Ducati Desmosedici GP11 – + 1.
03810- Colin Edwards – Monster Yamaha Tech 3 – Yamaha YZR M1 – + 1.
12711- Nicky Hayden – Ducati Marlboro Team – Ducati Desmosedici GP11 – + 1.
15812- Hiroshi Aoyama – San Carlo Honda Gresini – Honda RC212V – + 1.
23513- Loris Capirossi – Pramac Racing Team – Ducati Desmosedici GP11 – + 1.
61414- Cal Crutchlow – Monster Yamaha Tech 3 – Yamaha YZR M1 – + 1.
67715- Karel Abraham – Cardion AB Motoracing – Ducati Desmosedici GP11 – + 2.
06916- Alvaro Bautista – Rizla Suzuki MotoGP – Suzuki GSV-R – + 2.
77617- Toni Elias – LCR Honda MotoGP – Honda RC212V – + 3.