Nicky Hayden led the MotoGP field as an uncharacteristic rain storm spoils the first day of night testing in Qatar. The Losail circuit hosts the event in preparation of the opening round, slated for April 12th. Due to the rain and sand blown onto the track many riders, like Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner, either did not go out at all or only turned a couple of laps.
Qatar Test Day 1 Results:
Nicky Hayden led all MotoGP testers on Day 1 at Qatar.
1. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 2'00.717 (31 laps)
2. Marco Melandri (Kawasaki) 2'00.867 (35)
3. Mika Kallio (Ducati) 2'01.020 (29)
4. Alex De Angelis (Honda) 2'01.074 (15)
5. Niccolò Canepa (Ducati) 2'01.328 (26)
6. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) 2'01.843 (6)
7. Yuki Takahashi (Honda) 2'03.221 (18)
8. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 2'03.233 (15)
9. James Toseland (Yamaha) 2'03.417 (7)
10. Randy De Puniet (Honda) 2'03.580 (18)
11. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 2'03.652 (5)
12. Toni Elias (Honda) 2'08.637 (3)
13. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2'24.832 (1)
Courtesy of Ducati
The first day of a three-day test for the Ducati Marlboro Team got underway after a minor setback in Losail, where the desert landscape was hit by rain! With a scheduled start of 6pm local time, the session was interrupted almost immediately by a red flag after a light downpour, which lasted barely ten minutes. Several riders, Nicky Hayden included, got a handful of laps in before returning to join the rest of the riders watching the weather from pit-lane.
At around 9pm a group of rider representatives, including Stoner and Rossi, convened with the circuit officials to discuss the state of the track not only because of the rain but also because of the sand that had blown onto the surface beforehand. With the section between turns 11 and 12 still damp, the riders continued to wait and at around 10:30pm track action resumed, although Rossi, Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Capirossi and Stoner decided to wait for better conditions tomorrow.
Nicky Hayden completed a total of 31 laps, including the fastest of the day. As usual the American was prepared to make the best of the conditions, testing some electronic updates and a new fork.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro Team), fastest lap: 2'02.717 (on lap 29 of 31)
Hayden teammate Casey Stoner admires the unusual precipitation at the Losail circuit.
"I haven't seen rain in Qatar in all my life and I never thought I would! But today we'd barely got the bike on track and it started to come down. We had to spend a long time in the garage because even though a part of the track had dried out there was a section that stayed damp for a while. The track conditions were tricky and there wasn't much feedback, which meant we couldn't do the work we had planned. We've got a few different things to try so hopefully the weather is better tomorrow so we can get some work done."
Circuit Record: Casey Stoner (Ducati - 2008) 1'55.153
Best pole: Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha - 2008) 1'53.927
Unofficial lap times 01/03/2009
Courtesy of Fiat Yamaha
A rare rain shower over the Losail International Circuit spelt an end to the first session of night testing in Qatar this evening, with Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo completing just one lap each.
Testing commenced under the floodlights at 1800 but the rain began as soon as Rossi and Lorenzo ventured out on track, with neither of them able to get a fast lap in. The cool night time temperatures meant the asphalt was unable to dry sufficiently from then on and, although some riders ventured back out later in the evening, the Fiat Yamaha pair decided not to risk a patchy track surface and their activities were suspended until tomorrow.
Valentino Rossi Position: 14 Time: 12'31.872 Laps: 1
Jorge Lorenzo only turned three laps before rain spoiled his first day of testing at Losail.
"Five minutes of rain really gave us a lot of problems today. First we waited and then finally we decided to abandon it. I hope tomorrow it's back to normal because this was our worst race last year and we need the time to see where we are and continue to improve with our new package."
Jorge Lorenzo Position: 13 Time: 2'24.832 Laps: 1
"I went out and on the third lap it started to rain - I couldn't believe it! It seems strange to have rain in the desert and it's been a nightmare for the team because we have lost a whole day. I hope it's better tomorrow because I really want to try the new electronic system and also I need to keep working to improve with the Bridgestone tyres."
Courtesy of Honda
The 2009 MotoGP teams returned to pre-season testing with a three-day session at the Losail Circuit at Doha, Qatar, venue for the opening round of the 18 round world championship. The Qatar event is unique as it is run under a state of the art floodlighting system.
Despite its desert location weather conditions on the opening day were less than ideal heavy wind had deposited sand on track top.
Difficulties were compounded when light rain began to fall on the dirty track surface and only 10 riders took to the track when it opened, four of them completing three laps or less! The sand-rain combination saw the riders return to their pit boxes where they remained until the track conditions improved late in the session but little was achieved on day one at Qatar.
Consequently the teams will now have to cram three-day of testing into the two remaining days.
Honda rider quotes and lap times.
Alex De Angelis, San Carlo Gresini Honda: 4th. 2m 01.074s - Laps15.
"I only did 2 exits this evening but the track conditions were not good and the tyres were spoiled after five laps. Anyway, it was important to get the feeling again and be ready for tomorrow."
Yuki Takahashi, Scot Racing Team Honda: 7th. 2m 03.221s - Laps18.
"We started with the same setting we had in Malaysia to check the feeling and see the differences but unfortunately the track conditions were not good. The track had no grip and I didn't want to push too much, it was better not to risk for the first day with these conditions."
Andrea Dovizioso, Repsol Honda: 8th. 2m 03.233s - Laps 15.
"It was a strange day: finding rain conditions in the desert is very unusual. It was a pity. We only did a few laps even if the track conditions were not good, but I wanted to gather some data and be ready for tomorrow. This is a demanding track, with long turns and it is important to test here, especially in preparation of the championship and the first race."
Randy De Puniet, LCR Honda: 10th. 2m 03.580s - Laps 14.
"I can go to sleep with a good feeling. In fact I was not happy when I left Sepang because I hadn't found the right position on the bike. This evening we only did 18 laps because of the rain, but they were enough for finding a good position on the bike, so I'm confident for tomorrow."
Toni Elias, San Carlo Gresini Honda: 12th. 2m 08.637s - Laps 3.
"We decided not to test because the track was dirty, so we decided to spare the tyres for tomorrow. We hope tomorrow it will be fine and we can use the whole session at its best."
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: Did not test.
Courtesy of Pramac Racing
Fabiano Sterlacchini - Pramac Racing Technical Director
"This day of testing has been unluckily ruined by the rain, but the track condition were the same for everyone and we have done a good job. This gives us a lot of trust for the rest of this testing session. The track by the end of the day was almost dry but the grip wasn't the best. We hope that tomorrow it will be warm again and the track will get in the best condition possible."
Mika Kallio - Pramac Racing Rider
"I don't want to be too enthusiastic about this third best lap time, but I can consider my self pretty satisfied for the work done today. I hope to find the track completely clean tomorrow to understand our true potential. I had really good sensation with the bike. The objective for the next two days it will be to try to remain in the top part of the classification."
Niccolò Canepa - Pramac Racing Rider
"This was the first time for me on this track under this impressive floodlights system. It was beautiful, a pity that the rain has limited our work. I am anyway satisfied thanks to the good lap time registered. I need to ride for as many laps as possible and I hope that in the next two days we will find optimal weather condition. It has been a good start for me, surely better compare to the last test in Malaysia."