Stoner ends Losail night visit ahead of competitors again

MotoGP Official Night Test at Losail, Qatar - Tuesday 3rd March Final Report

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 timesheet.

The winner of the last two MotoGP races at the Losail International Circuit, including last year's historical first ever floodlit Grand Prix, Stoner showed his strength around the 5.38km desert track again.

The night time practice visit to Qatar, the second preseason test for the 2009 MotoGP field, ended with Stoner setting the pace just as he did in the opening test of the year in Malaysia in February.

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 completing far fewer laps than any of his rivals. The test saw him successfully debut a new carbon fibre swingarm on the Desmosedici GP9, though he was unable to undertake a race simulation and kept to short bursts on track as he rebuilds the strength in his left wrist, which was operated on over the winter.

Stoner crashed without consequence on turn two around ten minutes after setting his best time, but was back out on track within an hour.

Last year's Qatar poleman Jorge Lorenzo (Fiat Yamaha) got closest to Stoner on the timesheet, though he was nearly a full second (0.989s) behind the Ducati rider, with his best time registered late in the evening. Lorenzo's colleague 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 top five was rounded off by Rizla Suzuki's Chris Vermeulen, his best time arriving on the last of his 70 laps, and Stoner's new team-mate for 2009 Nicky Hayden.

Also featuring in the top ten were Vermeulen's Suzuki colleague Loris Capirossi, fastest Honda representative Randy de Puniet, factory Honda newcomer Andrea Dovizioso, the experienced Colin Edwards and San Carlo Honda Gresini's Alex de Angelis.

There were also crashes for Capirossi on turn six, Niccolo Canepa at turn 13 and Yuki Takahasi at turn three, but all three riders were reportedly unhurt.

The three night test had commenced on Sunday at the state-of-the-art floodlit track, but the first evening saw the riders' work restricted due to a rare downpour of rain earlier in the day and another shower an hour into the session.

Some riders, including Stoner and Dani Pedrosa, did not venture out of their pit-boxes, whilst the likes of Rossi and Lorenzo only managed a lap each. A shortened timesheet was topped by Hayden, although his best effort was well off record pace due to the conditions, as he once again demonstrated his famous appetite for hard work whatever the weather.

Monday night, meanwhile, saw Stoner top the timesheet by more than half a second, giving an indication of what was to come on the final night, but it was Pedrosa who took the headlines for the wrong reasons.

The Repsol Honda man crashed heavily at turn ten, instantly ending his test. He flew back early to Spain for a full assessment of his injuries, with scans at Barcelona's USP Institut Universitari Dexeus clinic on Tuesday revealing that a fractured radius (forearm) bone in his left arm will require an operation on Wednesday to insert a supportive screw, whilst his left knee is severely cut and needs a skin graft.

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. They will then return to Qatar for the first Grand Prix of the year on 10th-12th April.

Official Test Best Times

1. Casey Stoner, Ducati Marlboro Team - 1'55.744 (31)
2. Jorge Lorenzo, Fiat Yamaha Team - 1'56.733 (82)
3. Valentino Rossi, Fiat Yamaha Team - 1'56.972 (75)
4. Chris Vermeulen, Suzuki MotoGP - 1'57.224 (70)
5. Nicky Hayden, Ducati Marlboro Team - 1'57.225 (53)
6. Loris Capirossi, Suzuki MotoGP - 1'57.253 (42)
7. Randy De Puniet, LCR Honda MotoGP - 1'57.401 (77)
8. Andrea Dovizioso, Repsol Honda - 1'57.449 (74)
9. Colin Edwards, Monster Yamaha Tech3 - 1'57.515 (46)
10. Alex De Angelis, San Carlo Honda Gresini - 1'57.591 (61)
11. Toni Elias, San Carlo Honda Gresini - 1'57.804 (66)
12. Mika Kallio, Pramac Racing - 1'57.938 (54)
13. Niccolo Canepa, Pramac Racing - 1'57.946 (50)
14. Yuki Takahashi, Scot Racing Team - 1'58.412 (61)
15. James Toseland, Monster Yamaha Tech3 - 1'58.786 (51)
16. Marco Melandri, Hayate Racing Team - 1'58.851 (73)

Stoner on top of the timesheet.
Lorenzo, second fastest time.