Australia’s Casey Stoner has continued his stunning pre-season testing form by setting the fastest time on his Ducati Marlboro Desmosedici GP9 overnight.
Australia’s Casey Stoner has continued his stunning pre-season testing form by setting the fastest time on his Ducati Marlboro Desmosedici GP9 overnight at the Losail Circuit in Qatar. Stoner set a best lap of 1:55.744 in what was the final evening of testing under lights, a lap which is just over half a second slower than his best race lap last season.
Stoner has been fastest at both tests so far in 2009, Sepang and Qatar, although the critical thing about his Qatar success is that he has declared himself much more satisfied with his healing wrist, which he had surgery on over the off-season. Stoner had a small crash, but was unharmed in the fall.
“I’m obviously very happy with the lap time and the rhythm we put together today although I would have liked to have been able to get a few more laps in and test some more stuff. We knew the track conditions would get worse at around ten o’clock and that proved to be the case,” he said. “The wrist has responded quite well – it’s not as painful as it was at Sepang even though the mobility still hasn’t improved much. We’ll have to see how at feels at circuits with harder braking and more left-hand corners, which is where I struggle the most.”
Second fastest was Fiat Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo, setting a 1:56.733 – almost a full second slower than Stoner’s best. It was a promising night for Lorenzo however, becoming more comfortable on the Bridgestone spec tyres to narrowly outpace teammate Valentino Rossi.
It was a strong showing yet again for Suzuki, with Queenslander Chris Vermeulen slotting his GSV-R in fourth, while teammate Loris Capirossi wasn’t far behind in sixth.
The big news tonight was that second Ducati Marlboro rider Nicky Hayden slotted into the fifth quickest lap of the night with a 1:57.225, which is still a fair way off of Stoner’s pace but right there with the remaining riders. That result will raise the confidence of the Kentucky Kid massively. Ducati has a new swingarm which is helping both Hayden and teammate Stoner on the GP9.
Hayate Racing Team rider Marco Melandri finished the test with the slowest time of all over three seconds behind Stoner on the ex-KRT ZX-RR, although hopefully it’s enough to inspire them to keep going with the project.
Tech 3 Yamaha’s Colin Edwards and James Toseland were ninth and 15th fastest respectively, but great news coming from their camp today is that Monster Energy Drink has officially signed on as the team’s lead sponsor.
“Both Colin and James have built huge followings throughout their careers and they are extremely popular riders, so Monster Energy is pleased to become part of their continued efforts through our partnership with the Tech 3 Yamaha team for the upcoming ‘09 MotoGP season,” commented Monster president Mark Hall.
The team will debut its new livery at the final pre-season test of the year at Jerez in Spain on 28-29 March. It’s also expected that Toseland will have to give up his Red Bull sponsorship, which their logo adorns his helmet at the moment.
A major difference with Monster’s Tech 3 sponsorship is that it’s a naming rights deal, unlike at Kawasaki where they were basically a lead sponsor of the team. It’s also interesting to note that Monster is the title sponsor of Yamaha’s world championship-winning motocross team with David Philippaerts and Josh Coppins.
Unfortunate news has filtered back from Spain, with Dani Pedrosa having to undergo surgery to his left wrist as they found a slight fracture to his radius bone on arrival to see his own medical team back in Barcelona. The wrist will be pinned and the Repsol Honda rider will be fighting to be fit for round one next month.
Qatar MotoGP Test
Final Lap Times
1 Casey Stoner (Ducati Marlboro Team) 1:55.744
2 Jorge Lorenzo (Fiat Yamaha Team) 1:56.733
3 Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha Team) 1:56.972
4 Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) 1:57.224
5 Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro Team) 1:57.225
6 Loris Capirossi (Suzuki) 1:57.253
7 Randy De Puniet (LCR Honda) 1:57.401
8 Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) 1:57.449
9 Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha) 1:57.515
10 Alex De Angelis (Honda Gresini) 1:57.591
11 Toni Elias (Honda Gresini) 1:57.804
12 Mika Kallio (Pramac Racing) 1:57.938
13 Niccolo Canepa (Pramac Racing) 1:57.946
14 Yuki Takahashi (Scot Racing Team) 1:58.412
15 James Toseland (Monster Yamaha) 1:58.786
16 Marco Melandri (Hayate Racing Team) 1:58.851
A surprising announcement from the Superbike World Championship organisers today has seen cost-cutting measures put in effect following a meeting of the Superbike Commission, composed of Paolo Flammini (IMS), Claude Danis (FIM) and Giulio Bardi (Team representative), at Phillip Island’s opening round.
Friday practice has been reduced to just one session in the afternoon for Supersport and Superstock, eliminating the morning practice session following the Qatar round of the series in a couple of weeks. This rule will take away track time for the rookies learning the circuits, but is a very popular choice amongst many racing series as they fight off the pressures of the economy. The Superbike bike class track time will remain as is, although all sessions will take place in the afternoon.
The Superbike Commission will discuss the possibility of limiting engines at its next meeting in Qatar, also looking at ways of reducing practice time further in the future.
James Stewart has been signed up by Nike 6.0, and there’s a pretty cool video that Nike has released on its official website. Check it out here.
In other off-topic news, Ricky Carmichael has been scheduled in for the Atlanta round of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series following his surprise eighth place finish at California Speedway last month. The GOAT wasn’t originally going to compete in the race and was only scheduled to compete in selected rounds, although Kevin Harvick Inc. has decided to give him another run this weekend in the #4 Monster Energy Chevrolet.
“I learned so much in the race at California, I was anxious to race again as soon as I could to put all of that into action,” said RC. “I wanted to race again that day if they would have let me! I was scheduled to wait until Kansas (Speedway in April) for my next race, so I’m excited and grateful to have any track time I can get and run an extra race.”
Bad news for Glenn Kearney in the lead up to this year’s American Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) series is that the Aussie has a broken leg, but toughed it out and rode practice today on his Husqvarna in Florida’s opening round. Let’s hope he can at least score some points in what would be an iron man effort.