Top spot for Lorenzo in Qatar
LOSAIL, Qatar - Spain's Jorge Lorenzo halted World champion Casey Stoner's Qatar MotoGP surge when he clocked the fastest time in Friday's second and final practice ahead of Sunday's floodlit season-opener.
The Yamaha rider, World champion in 2010, had been second to the Australian Honda star in Thursday's session and Friday's first stretch but then clocked a lightning 1min55.302 lap, just outside Stoner's 2008 circuit record.
Britain's Cal Crutchlow, on another Yamaha, was second quickest, 0.154sec behind, while Stoner dropped back to third, 0.372sec off Lorenzo's pace.
Lorenzo said: "I’m very happy - we improved a lot on yesterday's lap times. I'm also happy for Cal - the bike seems much better than last year.
"I think we have even more potential for improvement. We still have a few issues to solve, especially corner entry, but we managed to keep a good pace."
In tricky, blustery conditions, Spain's Dani Pedrosa, on another Honda, had also come to grief in the first session although he was able to record the fifth-best time later in the evening behind Andrea Dovizioso on a Yamaha in fifth.
The best Ducati performance sixth by Hector Barbera who put factory riders Nicky Hayden and seven-times MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi in the shade.
They were seventh and eighth respectively.
In the first session on Friday Stoner had been 0.214sec faster than Lorenzo and 0.688 quicker than Dovizioso.
Stoner, who has won four times in the elite class in six visits to the Losail circuit, was unruffled by the strong wind as he clocked 1min 55.960, the only rider under 1min 56sec in the opening period.
"Today has been pretty good for us in general, we had some issues in the first two sessions but we've fixed them slightly in last one which is definitely positive," said Stoner.
"A few people got in our way throughout the session so we were unable to show what we were really capable of but we know how we feel and we're confident for qualifying tomorrow."
Sunday's race times
Moto 3 - 5.45pm (SH2,SS5)
Moto 2 - 7pm (SH2,SS5)
Moto GP - 8.45pm (SS5)
THIRD PRACTICE TIMES (FRIDAY)
1 Jorge Lorenzo (ESP/Yamaha) 1min55.302
2 Cal Crutchlow (GBR/Yamaha) +0.154
3 Casey Stoner (AUS/Honda) +0.372
4 Andrea Dovizioso (ITA/Yamaha) +0.603
5 Dani Pedrosa (ESP/Honda) +0.812
6 Hector Barbera (ESP/Ducati) +0.861
7 Nicky Hayden (USA/Ducati) +1.100
8 Valentino Rossi (ITA/Ducati) +1.233
9 Stefan Bradl (GER/Honda) +1.449
10 Alvaro Bautista (ESP/Honda) +1.469
11 Ben Spies (USA/Yamaha) +1.728
12 Karel Abraham (CZE/Ducati) +1.921
13 Randy de Puniet (FRA/Aprilia) +2.959
14 Colin Edwards (USA/Suter-BMW) +3.008
15 Michele Pirro (ITA/FTR-Honda) +3.498
THURSDAY PRACTICE REPORT
Stoner threw down the gauntlet in impressive style on Thursday when he topped the first free practice for the season-opening Qatar MotoGP. He clocked 1min56.474 to edge out Lorenzo with Nicky Hayden (Ducati) almost half a second off the pace in third.
Seven-times MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi, who has won this race three times, endured a miserable start to his season, managing only 10th-best, more than a second behind Stoner.
"The track wasn't so bad," Stoner said on Thursday. "I expected the conditions to be much worse but in general it was OK. We finished quickest, which is good, but we'll have to wait until Friday for some real track times."
Lorenzo said after Thursday's session that he was content with his lap on his new 1000cc machine after setting his best time in the closing minutes of the session. "A quite good start, but the track seems pretty dirty," the Spaniard said. "I feel good, we are at the top, close to Casey, and we have improvements to come from the bike, the track and myself."
'GOOD FOR SAFETY'
Rossi, without a race win for the first time in his career in 2011, admitted on Thursday that there was work to do on his Ducati to match Stoner and team mate Hayden.
"It's the first practice and I used the hard tyre the whole session, trying to do a lot of laps to understand it," the Italian said. "The new tyre is much better for warming up, so it's good for safety, but it started to slide a lot after some laps and made some of the understeer worse. We have to work with the setting and also the electronics."
First free practice times
1 Casey Stoner (AUS/Honda) 1min56.474
2 Jorge Lorenzo (ESP/Yamaha) +0.174
3 Nicky Hayden (USA/Ducati) +0.450
4 Ben Spies (USA/Yamaha) +0.508
5 Dani Pedrosa (ESP/Honda) +0.656
6 Cal Crutchlow (GBR/Yamaha) +0.921
7 Alvaro Bautista (ESP/Suzuki) +1.038
8 Andrea Dovizioso (ITA/Honda) +1.073
9 Hector Barbera (ESP/Ducati) +1.438
10 Valentino Rossi (ITA/Ducati) +1.440
11 Karel Abraham (CZE/Ducati) +1.465
12 Stefan Bradl (GER/Honda) +2.460
13 Randy de Puniet (FRA/Aprilia) +3.511
14 Colin Edwards (USA/Suter-BMW) +3.570
15 Michele Pirro (ITA/FTR-Honda) +3.848
16 Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) +4.246
17 Ivan Silva (ESP/Kawasaki-FTR) +4.664
18 Mattia Pasini (ITA/Aprilia) +4.787
19 Yonny Hernandez (COL/Kawasaki-FTR) +4.802
20 Danilo Petrucci (ITA/Ioda) +4.878