Repsol Honda‘s Casey Stoner drew first blood under the floodlights of Losail, after continuing his impressive pre-season form by topping the timesheets in the first practice session for the season opener. The Australian beat the competition set by team-mate Dani Pedrosa by 0.6s, and was the only rider to set a time under 1:55s in windy conditions in the desert.
Behind the front two, the session threw up some surprises, especially going against pre-season form. The biggest shock came in the form of Hector Barbera on the Mapfre Aspar Ducati popping into 3rd place, 0.669s behind Stoner. In what looks like a sudden rise in form of this years Ducati, Valentino Rossi on the factory machine placed 5th, 0.727s behind Stoner, with Marco Simonchelli sandwiched in between in 4th.
The pair of factory Yamaha’s finished in 6th and 7th with Ben Spies just 0.090s ahead of Jorge Lorenzo in a surprise downturn in form. The Yamaha’s seeming struggling with the windy, sandy track. Just behind them, Andrea Dovizioso came in 8th on the third Repsol Honda.
The Pramac Ducati of Randy De Puniet placed in a respectable 9th on the timesheet 1.038s behind Stoner. Colin Edwards rounds out the top ten, just edging out the Marlboro Ducati of Nicky Hayden. Hiroshi Aoyama finished eight places down on team-mate Simonchelli in 12th, with the second Pramac Ducati riden by Loris Capirossi just behind in 13th.
Brit Cal Crutchlow can be happy with his performance after wrestling his Monster Yamaha Tech3 to 14th place whilst carrying a nasty finger injury from the final test. Karel Abraham had a solid baptism to the top tier of the sport in 15th on the Cardion AB Motoracing Ducati.
Ãlvaro Bautista was gutted after having to miss out on most of the session after suffering severe arm cramp whilst trying a new front brake setup on his Rizla Suzuki, and Toni Elias rounds out the session in 17th on the LCR Honda after suffering with no rear grip.