Casey Stoner will head to Qatar as favourite to win the opening race of the 2012 MotoGP season after topping the timesheets on the final day of testing at Jerez. The World Champion trailed Jorge Lorenzo for much of the day but clocked a 1:38.780 in the final 15 minutes to lead the Yamaha rider.
Lorenzo finished just under two tenths of a second behind the Honda and after the teams worked on race simulations during the afternoon, it appears that the championship protagonists are closely matched on pace.
Dani Pedrosa was third fastest on the second RC213V with the Spaniard's race pace looking very similar to Lorenzo's while Ben Spies concentrated on the set-up of his Yamaha before going fourth. Cal Crutchlow's impressive winter continued and the Briton will carry genuine hopes of a top six finish to Qatar after going fifth fastest, the best of the rest behind the expected championship contenders.
Ducati will take encouragement from the performance of Valentino Rossi on Sunday with the Italian going sixth fastest. Rossi's main complaint through the winter has been his inability to carry as much corner speed as he would like and although Ducati don't appear to have completely solved the issue, they do seem closer to the pace than they were this time last year.
Andrea Dovizioso took the second Tech 3 Yamaha to seventh ahead of Nicky Hayden who struggled with traction issues while Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl rounded out the top ten on their satellite Hondas.
Unsurprisingly, the Aspar team led the CRT pack with Randy de Puniet virtually matching the fastest time set by Karel Abraham on the Ducati GP12 while the two Avintia Racing bikes brought up the rear, 4.1 seconds down in the case of Yonny Hernandez.
The next time MotoGP bikes will turn a wheel in anger will be during first practice for the Grand Prix of Qatar. The Checkered Flag will have full coverage of MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 throughout the season and keep an eye on the website for season previews dedicated to each class in the run-up to the race.
MotoGP Official Test (Jerez) – Day Three Classification
|1||Casey Stoner||Honda||Repsol Honda Team||1:38.780|
|2||Jorge Lorenzo||Yamaha||Yamaha Factory Racing||+0.173|
|3||Dani Pedrosa||Honda||Repsol Honda Team||+0.377|
|4||Ben Spies||Yamaha||Yamaha Factory Racing||+0.715|
|5||Cal Crutchlow||Yamaha||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||+0.805|
|6||Valentino Rossi||Ducati||Ducati Team||+0.953|
|7||Andrea Dovizioso||Yamaha||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||+1.080|
|8||Nicky Hayden||Ducati||Ducati Team||+1.139|
|9||Alvaro Bautista||Honda||San Carlo Honda Gresini||+1.237|
|10||Stefan Bradl||Honda||LCR Honda||+1.318|
|11||Hector Barbera||Ducati||Pramac Racing Team||+1.507|
|12||Karel Abraham||Ducati||Cardion AB Motoracing||+1.799|
|13||Randy de Puniet (CRT)||ART Aprilia||Power Electronics Aspar||+1.821|
|14||Aleix Espargaro (CRT)||ART Aprilia||Power Electronics Aspar||+2.865|
|15||Danilo Petrucci (CRT)||Ioda Aprilia||Came Ioda Racing Project||+3.146|
|16||Franco Battaini||Ducati||Ducati Team||+3.277|
|17||Colin Edwards (CRT)||Suter BMW||NGM Mobile Forward Racing||+3.293|
|18||Mattia Pasini (CRT)||ART Aprilia||Speed Master||+3.404|
|19||Michele Pirro (CRT)||FTR Honda||San Carlo Honda Gresini||+3.432|
|20||James Ellison (CRT)||ART Aprilia||Paul Bird Motorsports||+3.657|
|21||Ivan Silva (CRT)||FTR Kawasaki||Avintia Racing MotoGP||+3.666|
|22||Yonny Hernandez (CRT)||FTR Kawasaki||Avintia Racing MotoGP||+4.126|