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Mar 14, 2011

Stoner Tops On Final Day Of MotoGP Testing In Qatar; Americans 3rd, 8th, 9th

Casey Stoner (27).
FIM MotoGP World Championship
Losail International Circuit
Doha, Qatar
March 14, 2011
Day Two Test Results (all on Bridgestone tires):

1. Casey Stoner, Australia (Honda), 1:55.681
2. Dani Pedrosa, Spain (Honda), 1:55.745
3. Ben Spies, USA (Yamaha), 1:56.294
4. Marco Simoncelli, Italy (Honda), 1:56.433
5. Andrea Dovizioso, Italy (Honda), 1:56.439
6. Randy De Puniet, France (Ducati), 1:56.445
7. Jorge Lorenzo, Spain (Yamaha), 1:56.707
8. Colin Edwards, USA (Yamaha), 1:56.716
9. Nicky Hayden, USA (Ducati), 1:56.726
10. Hiroshi Aoyama, Japan (Honda), 1:56.740
11. Hector Barbera, Spain (Ducati), 1:56.798
12. Alvaro Bautista, Spain (Suzuki), 1:56.931
13. Valentino Rossi, Italy (Ducati), 1:56.988
14. Loris Capirossi, Italy (Ducati), 1:57.345
15. Cal Crutchlow, Great Britain (Yamaha), 1:57.730
16. Karel Abraham, Czech Republic (Ducati), 1:57.846
17. Toni Elias, Spain (Honda), 1:58.536

More, from a press release issued by Dorna Communications:

Casey Stoner struck the final psychological blow prior to the start of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship by setting the fastest time of the Qatar Test on Monday, as the last pre-season meeting concluded with the Australian top of the timesheet. An effort of 1'55.681 from the Repsol Honda rider placed him 0.064s ahead of team-mate Dani Pedrosa, who was the only other rider under 1'56" during the session.

The pair, who spent the five-hour second session finalising their set-ups for the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar which takes place at the circuit from Thursday to Sunday, were well clear of the rest of the field, with Yamaha Factory Racing's Ben Spies third at a distant 0.549s further down on Pedrosa as the American sought improved grip on his M1.

The session got underway in difficult conditions with strong winds having dusted the track with a coating of sand, but after a slow start the riders began to adapt and competitive lap times were soon being laid down.

Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini) closed the session with a best effort of 1'56.433, whilst Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) at just six-thousandths of a second behind made it four RC212Vs inside the top five on the timesheet as the latter Italian made headway with electronics settings. Randy de Puniet of the Pramac Racing team was the final rider to get within a second of Stoner's time thanks to a late lap of 1'56.445, making him the highest-placing Ducati of the final day.

World Champion Jorge Lorenzo spent Monday in search of better acceleration in the lower gears, focusing on electronics and the swingarm on his M1. However, the defending World Champion ended up 1.026s down on Stoner and in seventh position. Close on his heels and also on an M1 was Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), with Ducati Team rider Nicky Hayden and San Carlo Honda Gresini's Hiroshi Aoyama completing the top ten and all within four-hundredths of a second of Lorenzo.

Héctor Barberá (Mapfre Aspar) and Álvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) were next on the timesheet, both experiencing falls during the day, with Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) in 13th. The Italian also had a crash, at Turn 7, and closed the day 1.307s off top spot as his pre-season on the GP11 ended in a frustrating manner. His team-mate Hayden was one of a group of riders who fell inside the final hour.

Loris Capirossi on the Pramac Desmosedici suffered a similar fate and was eventually just under 1.7s off Stoner, with rookie Cal Crutchlow sustaining a finger injury on his left hand when his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine went down at Turn 10. The Brit was only able to complete 28 laps, finishing up 2.049s off top spot.

Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing) and Toni Elías (LCR Honda) completed the timesheet, and the pair both had crashes inside the final hour of the session.

More, from a press release issued by Repsol Honda:

Winter testing ends for Repsol Honda Team with a strong 1-2 finish

The Official Winter Tests came to a close today at the Losail circuit in Qatar after a sandstorm blew through the circuit hours before testing commenced.

Once the winds had settled, the riders took to the track and conditions started to improve. Casey Stoner continued his programme from yesterday and found the ideal rider position on his RC212V, the remainder of the session was spent alternating between the softer and harder compound tyres. Stoner topped the timing sheets for the final day of testing with a time of 1'55.681 which he set on lap 40 of 46.

Pedrosa finishing second for the evening with a time of 1'55.745, he tested the 2011 front fork and also completed a half-race distance run of 10 laps - testing the softer compound tyre and finished the session working on set-up ahead of this weekends season opening Grand Prix. Andrea Dovizioso made a race simulation and continued set-up work to be in the best possible shape for the coming weekend.

CASEY STONER 1st - 1'55.681
"I'm really happy, I didn't think we would get any laps in tonight judging from the weather earlier in the day, it was a little tough but the wind seemed to settle and the track conditions improved a lot and we got some good test time in tonight. By the look of the lap times everyone seems to have taken a big step forward, but we're happy with what we've achieved again here and we can enter the race weekend with confidence but at the same time everyone else will be improving their set-up so we can't relax. We found a good rider position which I'm really happy with, having moved my position more towards the rear in Sepang - to try and find more grip, here we can run a more neutral set-up and everything seems to be working well. We did some more work on electronics tonight and also on the tyres, but generally worked in preparation for the weekend".

DANI PEDROSA 2nd - 1'55.745
"The conditions seemed very difficult when we arrived at the circuit today as it was so windy and on the way here the road was full of sand, but we managed to finally complete a good test. It was very windy out on track and quite difficult to ride at maximum, but the grip was not so bad. It was cooler than yesterday and we improved our lap times, which is positive. Today we tried the new front fork, we have continued to work with electronics and have tried both the hard and the softer tyres. We kept the good feeling we had at Sepang, the test here in Qatar also went well in general and we go to the first race with a competitive bike, but for the Grand Prix we will have to keep working hard because nobody will give away anything".

ANDREA DOVIZIOSO 5th - 1'56.439
"It was a strange day of testing: at the beginning it was very windy and the track was dirty, but fortunately we managed to test. We worked on electronics and also on the set-up of the bike to improve the corner entry and at around 22.00 we did a race simulation. The temperatures today were cooler than yesterday with the ground reaching 18 degrees. We used the hard tyre for the whole session and maybe this strategy was a mistake. In the past it was not possible to use the soft compound on this track whereas it seems possible this year. Only myself and Lorenzo made a race simulation so it's difficult to compare the lap times with the other riders. If we look at the lap times, the gap to Casey and Dani is too big. I think this is because we used different tyres and did different work, for the race weekend we should be closer. Of course we need to keep working but I feel that we arrive at the first round competitive".

More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda:

Doha, 14th March: The two day of pre-season test held at the floodlit 5.380 km Losail circuit in Qatar came to a close at 11pm local time tonight with Stoner recording the best lap time of the day. The 17 MotoGP riders continued their busy schedules to try and ensure their prototypes are prepared in time for the first race at the circuit this Sunday.

Good weather conditions welcomed premier class riders and teams with both session opening at 18.00 local time. LCR Honda MotoGP racer Toni Elias concentrated on chassis adjustments and suspension setting during five-hour test period posting his best lap on 1'58.536 in a 57-lap spell (65 laps in yesterdays session). Unfortunately the Spaniard could not lap on soft tyres as he crashed in the last part of todays session but he escaped unhurt from the accident.

Elias: "Todays condition was not perfect because of the strong wind and sand on the surface so the grip was very poor. These conditions did not help us in our testing plan for today and our main issue remain the rear. I need to transfer more weight in the rear to improve my riding style but in the mean time we have found some good solutions for our base chassis set up. I crashed in the last part of the session and I could not lap on soft tyres to improve my lap time but we have got more important things to adjust ahead Sunday race. Honestly I am not happy about my position in the standing but the guys are doing a very good job and it's important to remain concentrated as I am sure the results will come soon".

More, from a press release issued by Monster Energy Yamaha Tech 3:

Edwards and Crutchlow eager to kick off 2011 MotoGP challenge

The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team completed its winter testing campaign in Qatar tonight, with Colin Edwards and Cal Crutchlow quickly turning their attention to the start of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship this weekend.

Edwards was delighted with his progress at the conclusion of preparations for his ninth MotoGP campaign, the Texan working meticulously through a range of chassis and suspension set-up options to give him a base from which to work from when practice for the opening race in Doha commences on Thursday evening.

A fierce gusting wind tonight made for unpredictable conditions at the Losail International Circuit, though Edwards was still able to lap margina lly quicker than he did in more favourable weather last night. He ended with a best time of 1.56.716 to finish eighth tonight, having finished sixth on the opening night.

Crutchlow's pre-season ended in premature and painful fashion after he'd shown encouraging progress throughout the test, the British rider dedicating much of his time to improving his braking technique on the YZR-M1 machine.

The British rider effortlessly adjusted to the unique challenge of riding under the spectacular Losail International Circuit floodlights for the first time last night. Crutchlow has previous experience of the Doha venue, but only in daylight when he raced in the 2009 World Supersport series. But he made light work of adapting to riding at night, ending the opening evening just over 0.5s away from the top ten.

Changes to the front-end of his YZR-M1 machine tonight further increased his confide nce but he was unfortunately unable to take any further part in proceedings following a heavy crash at Turn 10 shortly before 9pm.

Crutchlow suffered a nasty wound to his left little finger, which required lengthy treatment in the circuit medical centre. He lost the tip of his little finger when his hand became trapped underneath his handlebar, though fortunately there was no bone damage that required surgery. He will now undergo constant monitoring in the next 48 hours with Clinica Mobile staff ahead of the opening practice session on Thursday.

Colin Edwards 1.56.716 99 laps:
"It has been another positive test and now I'm really looking forward to the racing starting. The bike has been working awesome again at this track and it shows the hard work we put in during the two tests at Sepang recently has really paid off. We haven't really needed to make any major changes to the bike and that is a good sign. If you can take the bike to a completely different track and it works then it shows we've found a good set-up and I'm confident we go into the new season with a really good package. I ran through a few tyre options for Bridgestone tonight and got some good information but the conditions were really windy. I want to be further up the timesheets with a better lap time but it is the last day of testing before we start racing and I just didn't want to risk pushing for an outright lap time in those conditions. The wind was so bad in places it was blowing the front end out from underneath you, so I didn't want to be caught out. I feel really motivated and excited and while I know it is going to be a tough year, I feel we can put up a good fight. The field is probably the strongest it's ever been but I'm ready to go out there and fight for some good results."

Cal Crutchlow 1.57.730 79 laps
"The test certainly didn't end how I wanted and it is a real shame because we had made some changes to the balance of the bike that really helped my confidence with the front-end tonight. But I made a silly little mistake at Turn 10. I lost the rear and closed the throttle but then lost the front and I couldn't get my left hand out from underneath the handlebar. I've basically taken the tip off my left little finger and it is really sore now. I don't need surgery but it is obviously going to be uncomfortable this weekend for the race now. It is a shame because I was only 0.5s away from the top ten last night. I adapted to riding under the floodlights really quickly once I realised the shadows weren't somebody trying to overtake me! I was confident of taking another step tonight and I'm sure I could have done without the cr ash. It cost me nearly three hours of track time, which I can't really afford to lose at this stage, but I'm still looking forward to my MotoGP debut. It will be an honour to line-up against this field on Sunday night and as always I'll be giving it my best."

More, from a press release issued by Yamaha:

Spies Satisfied After Final Pre-Season Test Session in Qatar

The biggest threat on the track this evening for Yamaha Factory Racing riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies was not other riders but fiercely strong winds blowing across the Losail circuit in Qatar. The final pre-season MotoGP test session before next weekend's opening race was a battle against the elements.

American rider Spies built steadily up the time sheets, slotting in as second fastest rider just before the midway point of the session. He took his last opportunity before the race weekend to work through some further geometry settings with Crew Chief Tom Houseworth as they hunted down extra grip on the track, wrapping up at the end in third 0.613 seconds from the front. Spies' team mate Lorenzo struggled to make a significant step forward from yesterday's session, hampered by the winds the Mallorcan was unable to find the best set up for the conditions. He finished the session with an extended run to check on fuel consumption, ending the final test of the winter off-season in seventh position on the time sheets.

Ben Spies, Yamaha Factory Racing Rider, 3rd, 1'56.294 (45 laps)
"It's been a good test, I'm happy with it. We tried a few different things today and improved the bike some more. We've now got a couple of days to look over the data ready for the four day weekend, there'll be plenty more riding opportunities before Sunday. I was pretty confident coming here after Sepang, hopefully we can make the bike even better before the race. Last year we saw that the M1 worked well at every track, it's Yamaha's strong point and I think it's the same this year."

Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha Factory Racing Rider, 7th, 1'56.707 (48 laps)
"Today wasn't the best day for me. It was not because my riding is bad, I always admit when it is, we struggled with the set up of the bike during the session and unfortunately we didn't make a step forward. The wind was tough but that was a problem for everyone. We also tried a different swing arm today but it didn't make an improvement. We will work over the next few days to be ready to improve in the next sessions on Thursday."

Wilco Zeelenberg, Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
"Today was a very windy day in Qatar, compared to yesterday we struggled a little bit with the feeling and the balance of the bike because of it. We made a long run at the end even though we hadn't found a perfect feeling to see what our fuel consumption was and also gather some more electronic information. The bike set up wasn't perfect for it but it was necessary to do."

Massimo Meregalli, Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
"We are satisfied with Ben's bike set up, he was consistently quite fast. Ben didn't push 100% which makes us confident for the race weekend. We didn't try a really long run but managed to maintain a consistent fast pace with a used tyre. We didn't make as big a step forward today on Jorge's side as we would have liked however we completed a useful longer run to gather some valuable data. We're confident that we have enough sessions before Sunday's race for both riders to find an optimum and competitive set up."

More, from a press release issued by Rizla Suzuki:

Rizla Suzuki finishes pre-season testing in a productive style

Rizla Suzuki has completed a positive final day of testing at Qatar this evening to bring to an end this year's pre-season test schedule.

Álvaro Bautista (P12, 1'56.931,) was one of the busiest riders on track this evening as he completed 63 laps of the 5,380m circuit. He worked his way through an exhaustive test programme to get as much information about the performance of the GSV-R around the Losail track in readiness for next weekend's race. Bautista also tested new compound front and rear Bridgestone tyres, as well as giving a thorough test to the compounds that he will most probably use in the season opener.

Bautista's best time today was almost four-tenths-of-a-second faster than last night and he continued to produce consistent laps all evening as he showed decent race pace. Unfortunately his evening came to an early end when he lost the front of his GSV-R at over 250km/h as he braked hard for the final corner. He walked away from the huge crash with some minor scratches and bruises and will be fully fit for the race. Today's fastest time was set by Casey Stoner on his factory Honda.

Rizla Suzuki will be in race action for the first time this season next weekend, when the curtain-raising Grand Prix gets underway beneath the floodlights at Losail in Qatar on Sunday 20th March.

Álvaro Bautista:
"It has been another big workload tonight and we got a lot done again. We tried a different setting to try and get more grip with the rear tyre, because although yesterday wasn't too bad we still wanted to improve. I tested some new Bridgestone tyres tonight, but they didn't quite give me the same confidence as the ones we already have, but we still needed to test them so I'm glad I did. At the end I hoped to make a long run with the harder tyres, but it was too late. So instead I put a soft tyre in the rear and a hard in the front to try to make a good lap, but I tried to warm the tyres on the out lap so I could push hard and when I arrived in the last corner I braked very hard and lost the front, so I finished my day before the end of the test! I am happy with the work from the two days because we have a very clear direction for next weekend. We are in a much stronger position than a year ago and I'm looking forward to the race."

Paul Denning Team Manager:
"Up until the last 10 minutes of these 10 hours of testing, the two nights had been extremely productive for Álvaro and the Rizla Suzuki team. A 250km/h crash is never a good thing and the GSV-R that he was riding won't see the light of day again, but he is almost completely unmarked - so we can put that one down to good fortune and move on to the race weekend with optimism. The bike's performed consistently over the two nights, and whilst we haven't pushed for a qualifying type lap-time, Álvaro's rhythm over the long runs is quite competitive and we've got a good direction to start the Grand Prix weekend."

More, from a press release issued by Pramac Racing Team:


Excellent results for the Pramac Racing Team and Randy De Puniet on the last day of 2011 winter testing at the Losail International Circuit, Qatar. The French rider has, in fact, recorded since the early laps very interesting lap times ending with the sixth fastest time of just 150 milliseconds from the third in the standings, the American Ben Spies. Randy found himself at ease on the track in Doha, where he covered a total of 67 laps on the Ducati Desmosedici GP11 Sat. His teammate, Loris Capirossi, but has not had a lucky day. About half session on Italian rider crashed his way over 200km/h from then on was unable to improve his lap time than expected concluding in fourteenth position. From Thursday, you start to get serious with the first official session of the MotoGP always on the Losail circuit.

Randy De Puniet - Pramac Racing Rider 6th fastest lap time in 1'56.445

"As they went the last two Tests in Malaysia, next year we will only come here in Qatar to test. Jokes apart, at this circuit the situation is completely different than the six days of work in Malaysia. I feel better riding my Ducati and I really enjoyed today. My team did a fantastic job after two crashes yesterday. We tried many different solutions changing tires to understand the various reactions in anticipation of Sunday's race. We are confident."

Loris Capirossi Pilota Pramac Rider 14th fastest lap time in 1'57.345

"Today I felt good on the track, everything seemed to go in the right direction, but after the crash at more than 200km/h, things did not go as expected. However, I remain very calm for the first race here in Qatar this weekend. We tried some technical solutions that should allow us to be competitive and register significantly lower lap times. Now we enjoy a couple of relaxing days and finally the new season kick off."

More, from a press release issued by Ducati Marlboro:


The final pre-season MotoGP test session was completed tonight in chilly, windy conditions at Qatar's Losail International Circuit, where Ducati Marlboro Team riders Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi lowered their lap times from last night. The team will still be working hard to make up ground when practice for the first round of the world championship starts in two days, with the race scheduled for March 20.

Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro Team) 9th, 1:56.726 (68 laps)
"When we got here this afternoon, I wasn't sure how much riding we were going to get to do, because the wind was really gusting. It started dying down about the time we started, though, and they did a good job of cleaning the track. We tried some different options and got a little bit better, but not like we really wanted to. I did two longer runs and was able to string together some laps at a decent pace, on both hard and soft tyres. I ended the day with a crash in Turn 2, where a lot of guys have gone down this week. I just lost the front end. Anyway, that's enough testing, because this weekend it will really mean something. We know it's going to be a tough one, because everyone is pushing so hard, but we'll do our best to come in here and make a good showing."

Valentino Rossi (Ducati Marlboro Team) 13th, 1:56.988 (50 laps)
"I'd say that today was pretty challenging: the weather conditions were much tougher than yesterday, and I had another crash when I slipped on a white line. Fortunately, I just fell over on the ground"”it was nothing serious. The real problem was that at about an hour and a half from the finish, I started to lose strength in my shoulder, and I just couldn't push anymore. It's a shame, because I had just done my best time, and I may have been able to drop it a little more from there. Instead, we didn't even mount the two soft tyres that we had. I started on a long run, but I stopped because I was losing tenths lap after lap. Let's say that we're not as far back as it looks, although we still have a lot of work to do, regarding both the bike and myself, because the shoulder is evidently not yet able to bear two such intense days of testing. Between now and Thursday, I'll do some light exercise and have it massaged, and then we'll see."
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