Casey Dominates The Season’s Opening Practice Sessions In Qatar

 In News

The 2011 World Championship is officially under way and the Repsol riders lived up to the expectations created in the last few weeks. Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa dominated the first free practice session, leading the time classification, where Andrea Dovizioso was eighth, despite running fourth for the main part of the session.

The Qatar Grand Prix was once again the first round of the Motorcycling World Championship with a spectacular night setting. Under the lights of Losail Circuit, the Repsol riders set the pace this first day, confirming the great form they had already shown in the preseason tests. Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa, who dominated last weekend’s tests in this very same track, were again the stars of the first free practice sessions.

The Australian rider of the Repsol Honda Team led the session from the start, running at a pace no other rider was able to set. Stoner was the only rider able to stop the clock under 1 minute 56 seconds, which he did in 6 different laps, setting a fastest time of 1 minute, 55 seconds and 752 thousandths after 16 laps.

610 thousandths behind finished his team mate, Dani Pedrosa, who despite setting the second fastest time of the day, suffered a problem with the rear tyre he used. The tyre had dropped down a lot and that prevented him from finishing closer to his team mate in the classification. The Repsol rider did 18 laps, although he set his fastest time in the sixth lap, as he was not able to improve his time after his first run due to the problems with the back tyre.

Andrea Dovizioso finished 230 thousandths behind the Spaniard and was finally eighth in this first practice session. The Repsol rider was fairly consistent during the whole session and he run fourth until nearly the end, when he fell to the eighth position because his bike had vibes in the corners. Dovizioso did 19 laps and set a fastest time of 1 minute, 56 seconds and 592 thousandths.

Tomorrow the second day of practice will take place and the MotoGP riders will have another two sessions to prepare the first race of the season.

Casey Stoner

1’55.752 sec, 16 laps, 86 km.

“We started of where we left on Monday and used more or less the same set-up – the wind is a little stronger than we had in the test but the track condition feels pretty good. We need to improve rear edge grip, this is an area we’ve struggled with a little so we need to improve that which will give us better turn in and exit from the corner.
I’d say we’re about 80% complete on the bike package, we have a few main areas we can improve, but this is always the case – you can always improve something, and if we do in these areas it will makes us a lot more confident.I did the whole session with the same rear hard tyre and I was happy with it from the beginning to the end, and this is good for the race. Finally the season has started, everything has gone fantastic so far but we need to be realistic and keep focused”.