Jorge Lorenzo set the pace in the third and final practice session for Sunday's Qatar Grand Prix after edging out the impressive Cal Crutchlow. The factory Yamaha rider edged out the Briton's Tech 3 machine with two minutes to go while Casey Stoner was unable to do better than third.
Yamaha may have been smiling when the chequered flag fell but the session started disastrously as Ben Spies crashed out on his second flying lap. Although the incident was unseen by the TV cameras, the marks on the left side of his leathers indicated a high side through the right handed turn 12.
Stoner set the fastest time of the weekend ten minutes in, a 1:55.674, but as the World Champion hit traffic on his final run, Lorenzo took over on a 1:55.536. Moments later, Crutchlow stunned the pre-race favourites with a 1:55.456 but Lorenzo responded straight away to claim the honours in the final session before qualifying.
Stoner remonstrated with Alvaro Bautista after being held up on his final lap and had to make do with third, the first time he has been beaten in an official practice session this year. Andrea Dovizioso confirmed the competitiveness of the Yamaha with fourth while Dani Pedrosa was a subdued fifth after his crash in the earlier session today.
Hector Barbera was the quickest Ducati for the second session running, eight tenths off the pace, with the factory riders right behind him. Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi were over a second down in seventh and eighth while Stefan Bradl beat Alvaro Bautista again to be the quickest satellite Honda rider.
Randy de Puniet finished the day as the top CRT runner but a crash late on saw him limping heavily away from his ART Aprilia. James Ellison continued his progress on the Paul Bird ART and he is now right on the tail of Mattia Pasini whose bike broke down tonight.