Stoner Stays on Top

Henny Ray Abrams | June 20, 2008

LOSAIL, QATAR, MARCH 18 – Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner continued his mastery of the Losail International Circuit by again topping MotoGP practice by a comfortable margin.

This evening’s gap wasn’t the .610 sec. of Thursday night, the first practice session of the season. But at .397 sec. it was still impressive, with the time coming on the third of 17 laps amid a run six laps, the first five all in the 1:55’s and the final one in the low 1:56’s. Only second fastest Dani Pedrosa was able to dip into the 1:55’s and then only for a single lap.

Stoner, a three-time winner here, finished with a best of 1:55.457 sec. The lap was .305 sec. faster than he’d gone on Thursday night. The Australian will have a chance to lower the mark in the night session, which starts in only a few hours time.

Pedrosa was again at the top of a tightly grouped pack of riders. One second covered the Spaniard’s lap time of 1:55.854 mins. through the 1:56.833 of Rizla Suzuki’s Alvaro Bautista in 14th place.

The Repsol Honda domination was broken up by Yamaha’s Ben Spies. The Texan was again the fastest non-Honda and faster than his teammate, Jorge Lorenzo, who finished fifth fastest. Spies’ lap of 1:56.116 sec was more than a quarter of a second slower than Pedrosa, with the next three riders covered by little more than a tenth.

Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso was fourth ahead of Lorenzo, with Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards putting in his best placing of the young season in sixth.

Then came San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Marco Simoncelli on the fourth and final factory Honda RC212V. Simoncelli, like Spies, has been in impressive in testing during his sophomore season.

Also impressive in his first season was eighth fastest Cal Crutchlow. The Monster Energy Yamaha Tech 3-riding Brit was under the added duress of a badly damaged left pinkie finger, which he posted a photo of on his Twitter feed.

“Out in 1 hour and half! Nerves are open on finger but should be able to do something for pain! 1 more for you,” he tweeted. Crutchlow lost the end of his little finger in a “stupid crash” during Monday testing, he earlier tweeted.

Ducati Marlboro teammates Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden were together down the order in the opening session. The encouragement Rossi took from finishing fifth on the opening seemed to dissipate as he couldn’t match his Thursday time, while most everyone else improved. Hayden went faster and improved one position while finishing tenth in the session.

1.Casey Stoner (Honda) 1:55.457
2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:55.854
3. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1:56.116
4. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:56.172
5. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:56.220
6. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:56.259
7. Marco Simoncelli (Honda) 1:56.378
8. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1:56.518
9. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1:56.532
10. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:56.626



Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.