Casey Stoner set the pace at Qatar, the defending MotoGP champion leading Thursday evening’s Free Practice 1. The Repsol Honda rider lapped 0.174 faster than his chief rival for the 2012 title, factory Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo. Ducati’s Nicky Hayden was third-fastest in the opening session, within a half second of the leader.
Casey Stoner set the pace in Thursday evening's opening practice session, kicking off the 2012 season at Qatar.
The opening Qatar round, unique as the only night race on the 18-round GP schedule, features an unconventional racing program. MotoGP runs a single practice session on Thursday, with FP 2 and 3 on Friday, and Saturday reserved for a single qualifying session followed by warm-up and race on Sunday.
“We started this evening with huge chatter issues and I was a little afraid we couldn't fix this but after a few more exits we managed to reduce it to a more comfortable level,” said Stoner in a Repsol Media release. “This is a positive point for the weekend but with such a short session and then nothing until tomorrow it's slightly strange.”
Yamaha’s Ben Spies topped the chart through much of the session, ending FP1 in fourth. The American was the final rider to dip under the 1’57 mark, with Dani Pedrosa fifth fastest and Tech3 Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow the fastest satellite rider in sixth.
Provisional Row 3 is led by Gresini Honda’s Alvaro Bautista, the Spaniard followed by Tech 3’s second rider Andrea Dovizioso. Pramac Racing’s Hector Barbera edged out factory Ducati’s Valentino Rossi for ninth, with the second satellite Duc, Cardion AB’s Karel Abraham in 11th. MotoGP rookie Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda) was the slowest of the factory prototypes.
As expected, Randy de Puniet led the CRT field – though the Team Aspar rider was a full second off the nearest factory bike (Bradl) and 3.5 seconds adrift of Stoner. The next fastest CRT was Colin Edwards on the BMW/Suter Forward Racing entry – almost dead even with De Puniet.
2012 MotoGP Qatar Free Practice 1 Results:
1. Casey Stoner (Honda) 1'56.474
2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1'56.648
3. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1'56.924
4. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1'56.982
5. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1'57.130
6. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1'57.395
7. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1'57.512
8. Andrea Dovizioso (Yamaha) 1'57.547
9. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 1'57.912
10. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1'57.914
11. Karel Abraham (Ducati) 1'57.939
12. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 1'58.934
13. Randy de Puniet (Team Aspar) 1'59.985
14. Colin Edwards (Forward Racing) 2'00.044
15. Michele Pirro (Gresini Honda) 2'00.322
16. Aleix Espargaro (Team Aspar) 2'00.720
17. Ivan Silva (Avintia Racing) 2'01.138
18. Mattia Pasini (Speed Master) 2'01.261
19. Yonny Hernandez (Avintia Racing) 2'01.276
20. Danilo Petrucci (IodaRacing) 2'01.352
21. James Ellison (PBM) 2'03.421