From a press release issued by Marlboro Ducati: STONER INSIDE LAP RECORD WITHIN FIRST HOUR OF HISTORIC QATAR NIGHT TEST MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner needed just 45 minutes to find his bearings around the floodlit circuit of Losail in Qatar, with almost five and a half million watts lighting up the first official test session at 1800h local time, following a spectacular opening ceremony. Within an hour Stoner had clocked a stunning lap of 1’55.368, inside the current lap record and almost three seconds clear of his nearest rival. The test didn’t finish until 0100h in the morning but both Ducati Marlboro Team riders were in positive mood. Track temperatures at 2000h were around 18Â°C. CASEY STONER, Ducati Marlboro Team “The first impression is like playing on the videogame “Need for Speed”! It’s definitely a lot different to what we’re used to. It’s not better or worse, just different. The most interesting thing is that with lower visibility, at least with regard to the imperfections on the track, you have to have more confidence than your instinct tells you to have. It’s not a bad start though.” MARCO MELANDRI, Ducati Marlboro Team “At the start it’s quite difficult but then little by little you get used to the visibility, which is good but very different to daylight. They’ve done a great job and in my view there are only a couple of areas, between turns 5 to 9 and turn 14, which could be improved. Grip is good, it’s just the wind that’s a problem.” Circuit Record: Casey Stoner (Ducati – 2007), 1’56.528, 166.208 km/h Best Pole: Valentino Rossi (Yamaha – 2007), 1’55.002 Lap times at 21:00 local time, 3 hours into the test: 1. Casey STONER (Ducati Marlboro Team) 1:55.368 2. Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Honda) 1:56.442 3. Randy DE PUNIET (Honda) 1:56.649 4. Colin EDWARDS (Yamaha) 1:56.860 5. James TOSELAND (Yamaha) 1:57.018 6. Valentino ROSSI (Yamaha) 1:57.038 7. Jorge LORENZO (Yamaha) 1:57.100 8. Alex DE ANGELIS (Honda) 1:57.210 9. Shinya NAKANO (Honda) 1:57.837 10. Chris VERMEULEN (Suzuki)1:57.872 11. John HOPKINS (Kawasaki) 1:57.900 12. Nicky HAYDEN (Honda) 1:58.208 13. Anthony WEST (Kawasaki) 1:58.226 14. Loris CAPIROSSI (Suzuki) 1:58.318 15. Marco MELANDRI (Ducati Marlboro Team) 1:58.530 16. Dani PEDROSA (Honda) 1:58.570 17. Toni ELIAS (Ducati) 1:58.629 18. Sylvain GUINTOLI (Ducati) 1:58.847 More, from a press release issued by Rizla Suzuki: Rizla Suzuki MotoGP has completed the first-ever MotoGP event held at night, as it tested at Doha in Qatar on Thursday evening. Loris Capirossi was the first rider to take to the track to test the awesome floodlights that have been erected around the 5.38km Losail International Circuit. He was closely followed on to the track by team-mate Chris Vermeulen as the pair set about preparing their Suzuki GSV-Rs in readiness for next week’s race at the same venue – also to be held at night. Vermeulen completed 80 laps onboard his machine, as he recorded a fastest time of 1’57.522 to give him 14th place on the timesheets. Capirossi circulated 66 times and his quickest lap of 1’57.551 gave him 15th spot. Both riders worked hard to find significant advances in set-up and handling improvements from the last test at Jerez in Spain, and will be looking to better their lap-times and positions during tomorrow evening’s session. Track temperatures dropped to 15ÂºC as the cool desert air made tyre choice a major issue and proved a thorough test for the Bridgestone technicians present at the track. Today’s fastest time was set by World Champion Casey Stoner on his Bridgestone-shod Ducati. Rizla Suzuki MotoGP has one more test session tomorrow which will be the final time Capirossi and Vermeulen take to the track before next week’s practice begins for the first race of the 2008 MotoGP World Championship, also at Qatar. Loris Capirossi: “It is really interesting riding in the night and my feeling is that it is good out there, it’s not like daylight but I am very impressed. We are working a lot on the bike and we have tried something different to find the best setting. We know the way to minimise the problems we have at the moment, we are still struggling a bit with traction which was the same as we had at Jerez. I think we are working really hard and the team is very close – we only need a bit of time to make sure we are 100% and fully competitive for the first race.” Chris Vermeulen: “It was quite strange out there to begin with as it wasn’t as bright as I thought it would be, there were still quite a lot of shadows so it took a bit of getting used to. The circuit has done a great job though as it is difficult to supply the level of light we need to race a MotoGP bike, but they have made that possible. From the bike’s point of view we had a big problem when we arrived here, but today we seemed to have partially solved that and that was certainly our priority at this test. Things are definitely heading in the right direction and I hope that we have sorted this problem so that we can really work on some proper testing and getting some pace out of the bike.” IRTA Qatar Night Test Session One classification: 1. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 1’55.330: 2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) +0.689: 3. Randy de Puniet (Honda) +0.732: 4. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) +0.791: 5. James Toseland (Yamaha) +0.921: 14. CHRIS VERMEULEN (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) + 2.192: 15 LORIS CAPIROSSI (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +2.221: More, from a press release issued by Fiat Yamaha: MOTOGP MAKES HISTORY IN THE DESERT The first ever night-time MotoGP test got underway at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar this evening, ahead of the opening race of the season and the inaugural night race in just over a week’s time. The circuit is lit by 1000 floodlights at varying heights, making it as light as day and covering an area equivalent to 70 football pitches. Fiat Yamaha Team rider Valentino Rossi, who won the race here two years ago, was unfazed by the unusual conditions however and it was soon business as usual for the Italian, who finished the night’s work in ninth place. One of the main aims of the first night’s testing for Rossi was to work with Bridgestone to find the best tyres to suit the conditions, which are of course considerably cooler than during the daytime tests and races of the past four years. He also worked on general set-up as the team try to maximise the final hours of pre-season track time as the clock ticks down towards the first race. Rossi completed 82 laps overall and posted a best lap of 1’56.749, whilst team-mate Jorge Lorenzo was second fastest with a lap of 1’56.019. Valentino Rossi Position: 9th Time: 1’56.749 Laps: 82 “There was a lot of curiosity about this night test and I have to say that I am quite satisfied. I think they have made a great job with the lights and you can ride quite normally, as if it’s day. The visibility is quite good so there is no danger for us; it’s really no more difficult than riding in the day. Maybe it would be better to move this night race to a period when the temperature is a little bit higher however, because at the moment it’s very cold here! Today we have worked a lot on the bike set-up, but we were not so fast and we are still missing some grip in acceleration. We tested several different tyres and settings, but I am still sliding a bit when I open the throttle and the front is going a bit wide. We know that this track doesn’t have the best grip, but other riders are going faster, so we must do better. We have a couple of ideas for tomorrow and I am sure we will be able to improve.” Davide Brivio Team Manager “As far as the light is concerned, after one hour testing things seemed to be normal. We got used to the new conditions very quickly and everything worked well. The lights are not a problem, but the temperature is! Maybe it would be better to ride in Qatar when the temperature by night is a little bit higher. The track temperature is equal to the air temperature – low! At the time of the race it was only 15Â°, so it is a limiting situation concerning tyre performance. As far as the bike is concerned, we still have some work to do to increase our performance here and we especially need to improve the setting in order to make the tyres work better in the low temperatures. Tomorrow we will be testing new settings and materials from Bridgestone and we will try to be faster than we were today.” More, from another press release issued by Fiat Yamaha: LORENZO HAPPY UNDER THE LIGHTS IN QATAR Fiat Yamaha Team rider Jorge Lorenzo joined the rest of the MotoGP grid in somewhat unusual conditions today, as the World Championship’s first ever night-test got underway in Qatar. The test is the final one of the pre-season before the first race is run by night at the same track on 9th March. Lorenzo lost no time in getting to grips with his new circumstances, and with 5.4 million watts lighting the track he, like most other riders, found the conditions different but no more difficult than by day. He concentrated on developing his set-up, testing Michelin tyres and just getting used to riding the M1 around a track at which his last experience was riding a 250cc machine to victory in much warmer temperatures. Lorenzo finished the day in an impressive second position after 77 laps, whilst his team-mate Valentino Rossi was ninth. Jorge Lorenzo Position: 2nd Time: 1’56.019 Laps: 77 “On this first night of testing in Qatar I was more curious to see how it was riding at night than anything else! I am happy with this idea and honestly speaking I felt I immediately got used to the conditions. Of course at the beginning it feels a bit strange but after few laps things become quite normal and your eyes get used to the new light. The strangest feeling I had was that I felt”¦lonely! Riding in the night, although the light is very strong, makes you feel alone with your bike, so you must keep the concentration very high because of course you are not alone! The right lines do not change because of the light, only when braking do you see your shadow getting closer, and that’s why you always must be alert, in order not to get confused with the shadow of another rider! As far as our performance is concerned, my time was very good today but I think with some more work we can be faster still. Tomorrow, when I am more used to the new light, the track and to the cold temperatures, we will try to do even better.” Daniele Romagnoli Team Manager “It was a positive day for us. Obviously it was a very different test for the team and for all the technicians, a little bit more difficult than usual but I have to say that we did not have any major problems. The rider did not feel any particular difference than riding by day; of course he took some laps to get used to the light, but after that he started riding like it was by day. We started with the basic set-up of Jerez, with just a little change to adjust it to this track. We worked on the riding position, which we slightly changed, then we worked on the electronics, mainly on the power delivery. We also focused on the tyres today and I think we did a good job. We collected new information in these conditions, which are very different from the previous races here. Tomorrow we will be working in the same direction and hopefully we will be faster.” Test Times 1. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati Marlboro 1’55.330 2. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Fiat Yamaha Team 1’56.019 3. Randy De Puniet (FRA) LCR Honda MotoGP 1’56.062 4. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) JiR Team Scot MotoGP 1’56.121 5. James Toseland (GBR) Tech 3 Yamaha 1’56.251 6. Alex De Angelis (RSM) San Carlo Honda Gresini 1’56.571 7. John Hopkins (USA) Kawasaki Racing 1’56.614 8. Randy De Puniet (FRA) LCR Honda MotoGP 1’56.621 9. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Fiat Yamaha Team 1’56.749 10. Colin Edwards (USA) Tech 3 Yamaha 1’56.762 11. Toni Elias (SPA) Alice Team 1’57.007 12. Nicky Hayden (USA) Repsol Honda 1’57.010 13. Shinya Nakano (JPN) San Carlo Honda Gresini 1’57.223 14. Chris Vermeulen (AUS) Rizla Suzuki 1’57.522 15. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1’57.551 16. Marco Melandri (ITA) Ducati Marlboro 1’57.593 17. Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Alice Team 1’57.644 18. Anthony West (AUS) Kawasaki Racing 1’57.787 Losail: Lap Record C. Stoner (Ducati) 2007, 1’56.528 Losail: Best Lap V. Rossi (Yamaha) 2007, 1’55.002 More, from a press release issued by Honda: Randy De Puniet fastest Honda RC212V rider under the floodlights at Qatar MotoGP test The 2008 MotoGP riders and team managers attended a spectacular inauguration ceremony tonight as the Losail circuit, venue for Qatar Grand Prix, became the first fully floodlit MotoGP circuit when the race organization switched on the awe inspiring lighting system. The 5.380 km circuit now boasts 1,000 poles ranging between three and nine meters tall the height of the poles determined by the distance from the track strategically placed to reduce the shadow effect. Forty-four 13 megawatt generators, installed in batches of three, pump out enough power to illuminate 70 football pitches! Riding 320 km plus 800cc grand prix machines in normal conditions is the biggest challenge in two-wheel motorsport riding them under floodlights brings a whole new dimension into play and the riders entered the fray in cautious frame of mind. Some riders found it relatively easy to get up to speed for others the artificial light gave them problems identifying points of reference. Repsol Honda factory team rider Dani Pedrosa had problems with the shadows on the track top and found riding tiring on the eyes. Still suffering some discomfort to the hand he injured in early season testing the Spaniard is playing catch up on his rivals but managed to put in consistently fast lap times ending the first floodlit practice session with eighth fastest time. Pedrosa’s Repsol Honda team mate, American Nicky Hayden, started the test with the base line set up employed at the last MotoGP test at Jerez, Spain. After acclimatizing to the conditions he found riding under lights not too much different to a day time race. JiR Scot Honda teamster Andrea Dovizioso has racing experience under lights albeit from his childhood Pocket bike career. Dovizioso, a 2008 MotoGP Rookie, took time to identify reference points as the reflected light varied from corner to corner. The Italian, a former 125cc world champion has quickly come to terms with the RC212V after a career spent in the smaller capacity classes finding the transition to big four-stroke machines has been almost seamless. San Carlo Gresini Honda rider Alex De Angelis was one of the quick to learn brigade. The young Sanmarinese had tested at the circuit in November and was impressed with the improvements made in the meantime. Once his night vision was dialed in De Angelis used the base set up the team have established for the MotoGP Rookie’s RC212V to test tyres for Bridgestone testing both soft and medium compounds. His San Carlo Honda team-mate, Japanese star Shinya Nakano took longer to adjust to the experience but after two hours he felt confident enough to test a variety of tyres in combination with suspension settings. Frenchman Randy De Puniet found the conditions ‘Strange’ but experienced no problems with shadows while riding his LCR RC212V. He used the base set up he and his team technicians have developed during winter testing making only minor adjustments before working with Michelin on tyre testing. Honda rider lap times and quotes. Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 1m 56.621s “The track seems to be well lit but there are a lot of shadows and it’s very tiring on the eyes. I rode on my own throughout most of this evening’s session, so I don’t yet know how the floodlights will be in a race situation. Compared to the last test session in Jerez, my physical condition has improved, I still feel pain when I’m braking and the hand has swollen a bit, but it’s better than it was at Jerez. It’s been quite a difficult evening, we are struggling with the bike, we haven’t found the right set-up, so tomorrow we will continue working to prepare a base set-up for the race weekend here, which is next week.” Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda: 1m 57.010s “I quite enjoyed myself, it’s a little bit different, I thought it was pretty fun. We need to get faster but the actual feeling is quite good and it’s a pretty cool experience. I haven’t ridden with anyone yet to see how that’s going to be, but as far as the lines and stuff, it’s not really much different from daytime. I haven’t had any problems with the shadows, just a bit of the glare off some of the lights is a bit strange, but the actual track, the grip, the tyres seem okay, so I think it’s good. Last year we struggled a lot here so we basically started with our Jerez settings, just checking a few things right now and trying to dial it in.” Alex De Angelis, San Carlo Gresini Honda: 1m 56.571s “I tested here in November so it was not a big surprise for me. They did a great job, it’s fun riding here. I also did some overtaking and I found no problem with the shadows. Maybe the problem could be the start when we are all together. We tested several tyres tonight and we found some interesting solutions. As for the bike we haven’t changed so much. It’s not good to make big changes from the base set up.”. Andrea Dovizioso, JiR Scot Honda: 1m 56.121s “At the beginning it was a little difficult to identify the individual points of reference. When I was a child and I was riding pocket bikes at night I remember that I had to make only small variations to my riding style. Here instead it’s much more demanding because the track is a bit up and down and the points of reference change colours from one point to another because of the reflection of the lightning. As for the bike I’m happy because I can adapt quite easily to every new track even if I have no point of reference.” Randy De Puniet, LCR Honda: 1m 56.062s “It was strange , especially at the beginning. In fact outside the track everything is dark, but I had no special problem on track with the shadows. The conditions are cool at night and I’m satisfied. The feeling with the bike and the tyres is good. We have a good base set up so I didn’t change too much. I tested some tyres for Michelin tonight.” Shinya Nakano, San Carlo Gresini Honda: 1m 57.223s “it’s like driving a car in the highway in the night! The track is lighted but you have to get used to it. After a couple of hours I started to understand some things and to get used to the new situation and also lap times improved. We start with soft tyres and then used the medium because the tyres are working well. We also worked on suspension setting, trying different solutions in order to find the right balance.” Overall lap times on day one at Losail. 1. Casey STONER (Ducati Marlboro Team) 1:55.330 2. Jorge LORENZO (Fiat Yamaha) 1:56.019 3. Randy DE PUNIET (Honda LCR) 1:56.062 4. Andrea DOVIZIOSO (JiR Honda Scot ) 1:56.121 5. James TOSELAND (Yamaha Tech3) 1:56.251 6. Alex DE ANGELIS (Honda San Carlo) 1:56.571 7. John HOPKINS (Kawasaki) 1:56.614 8. Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda) 1:56.621 9. Valentino ROSSI (Fiat Yamaha) 1:56.749 10. Colin EDWARDS (Yamaha Tech3) 1:56.762 11. Toni ELIAS (Alice Ducati) 1:57.007 12. Nicky HAYDEN (Repsol Honda) 1:57.010 13. Shinya NAKANO (Honda San Carlo) 1:57.223 14. Chris VERMEULEN (Rizla Suzuki) 1:57.522 15. Loris CAPIROSSI (Rizla Suzuki) 1:57.551 16. Marco MELANDRI (Ducati Marlboro Team) 1:57.593 17. Sylvain GUINTOLI (Alice Ducati) 1:57.644 18. Anthony WEST (Kawasaki) 1:57.787 More, from a press release issued by JiR Team Scot: Andrea Dovizioso posts 4th quickest time and is first Italian in Qatar night test The desert night was broken by the light of the floodlights that will make the night day at the Losail circuit in time for the first race of the 2008 season. For the first time in the World Championship’s history one race will be conducted at night and the next two nights of testing will help dispel any doubts and eliminate any problems before the first race here on 9th March. Testing starts at 7pm each night and finishes at midnight, local time. The team will use this time to adapt to the conditions and find the best setting for the bike for the first race of the championship that will take place in just over a week’s time at the 3.344-mile Doha circuit. The result of the first day for the JiR Team Scot squad is very positive, with Andrea Dovizioso posting the fourth fastest time. Gianni Berti Technical Coordinator, JiR Team Scot “The question mark over the time of the race was a big one! Not just the time of the race, but the temperature and especially the artificial light! Ultimately today, things were easier than we expected. Today the opening ceremony delayed the start and the finish for an hour or so, but when we got started we realised that the conditions and temperature was not very different from what we have found in other GPs and Andrea and his technicians were able to adapt very quickly and get into a good rhythm. Our overall aim here is to prepare for the race, so we will chase the best setting and then work on the tyre choice so we have the right ones for the conditions expected in the race. To do this, we will be doing a lot of full race-distance simulations in these conditions.” Andrea Dovizioso Rider, JiR Team Scot MotoGP HONDA RC212V 81 laps completed Best time: 4th – 1’56″121 “I’m very satisfied after my first time in the night here at Doha! I went fast from the start and for all the sessions I stayed in the high positions, which is great. My good results here are thanks to the hard work of the team and to our Michelin friends and other Technical Partners. I did a race simulation tonight and found that my times were consistent. We know that we can improve our performance over the next few days. The bike is competitive although we have to reduce the front-end chatter that we have experienced tonight, which has disturbed me a little. Only a little, though, as it’s not been a problem to go fast.” Pietro Caprara Crew chief, JiR Team Scot “The conditions are strange! You know that you are working, but because it’s night-time you feel like you’re jet-lagged! Conditions have been good, even if the temperature never hit the minimum of 15 degrees. Despite this we had no problem with dampness on the track, which would have affected our grip. The wind was light all evening and didn’t bring up the fine sand that it can do during the day. The whole programme for today has been completed and this shows that the team can react well and fast to any problems. We are working very well with all our Technical Partners, which is also good. Tomorrow we hope to go on to do better than today and be ready for race, which is just now a few days away. “ Test Qatar MotoGP Day one 1) Casey Stoner Ducati 1’55″330 2) Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1’56″019 3) Randy De Puniet Honda 1’56″062 4) Andrea Dovizioso Honda 1’56″121 5) James Toseland Yamaha 1’56″251 More, from a press release issued by Dorna Communications: Ducati Marlboro’s World Champion Casey Stoner was the fastest rider in MotoGP’s inaugural floodlit test at Losail International circuit on Thursday evening, lapping 0.689s ahead of his nearest rival in a groundbreaking session which concluded without problems. Also in the top five were Fiat Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo, LCR Honda’s Randy de Puniet, JiR Team Scot’s Andrea Dovizioso and Tech3 Yamaha’s James Toseland a quartet of Michelin riders who all lapped within a second of Stoner’s hot lap. Under the state-of-the-art lighting system at the desert circuit, Alex de Angelis from the San Carlo Honda Gresini squad made it a good night all round for the 2008 MotoGP rookies as he lapped sixth quickest. Behind the San Marino rider came Kawasaki’s John Hopkins, who lapped 71 times despite still being on the comeback trail after his groin injury. Meanwhile Repsol Honda’s own comeback kid Dani Pedrosa, who rides with an injured hand still, used a softer tyre at the end of the session to cut his lap time, with experienced Yamaha pair Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards rounding off the top ten. The entire 2008 MotoGP field was in attendance, gaining a crucial first taste of what to expect at the season opening Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar on 9th March and focusing mainly on race tyre tests for the majority of the seven hour session with temperatures a cooler than expected average of 16ÂºC. In the last hour of the practice Lorenzo improved his own time to move up into second on the timesheet. The 250cc World Champion was still more than half a second behind Stoner though, the premier class title holder having set the pace right from the start with a time of 1’55.368 in the first hour of the outing, a time which he later reduced by a further 0.038s midway through the evening. Anthony West was the session’s only crasher, an accident early on which did not result in any significant injury for the Australian Kawasaki rider, whilst the majority of the feedback from the teams and their MotoGP charges with regard to visibility and riding conditions was highly positive. The test visit continues on Friday with a second and final 2008 MotoGP preseason test under the Losail floodlights, followed by three days (1st-3rd March) of testing for the smaller classes as of Saturday just days before the start of the World Championship at the same venue. Qatar Official MotoGP test Day One official lap times: 1. C. Stoner, DUCATI MARLBORO – 1’55.330 / 61 laps 2. J. Lorenzo, FIAT YAMAHA – 1’56.019 / 77 3. R. De Puniet, LCR HONDA MotoGP – 1’56.062 / 88 4. A. Dovizioso, JiR TEAM SCOT – 1’56.121 / 81 5. J. Toseland, TECH3 YAMAHA – 1’56.251 / 90 6. A. De Angelis, SAN CARLO HONDA GRESINI – 1’56.571 / 69 7. J. Hopkins, KAWASAKI RACING – 1’56.614 / 71 8. D. Pedrosa, REPSOL HONDA TEAM – 1’56.621 / 72 9. V. Rossi, FIAT YAMAHA – 1’56.749 / 82 10. C. Edwards, TECH3 YAMAHA – 1’56.762 / 86 11. T. Elias, ALICE TEAM – 1’57.007 / 85 12. N. Hayden, REPSOL HONDA TEAM – 1’57.010 / 91 13. S. Nakano, SAN CARLO HONDA GRESINI – 1’57.223 / 79 14. C. Vermeulen, RIZLA SUZUKI – 1’57.522 / 80 15. L. Capirossi, RIZLA SUZUKI – 1’57.551 / 66 16. M. Melandri, DUCATI MARLBORO – 1’57.593 / 70 17. S. Guintoli, ALICE TEAM – 1’57.644 / 66 18. A. West, KAWASAKI RACING – 1’57.787 / 51 Race lap record: 2007, Casey Stoner – 1’56.528 Qualifying record: 2007, Valentino Rossi – 1’55.002 More, from a press release issued by Monster Kawasaki: BURNING THE MIDNIGHT OIL IN QATAR The lights were switched on at 17.45 hours, local time, at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar today as MotoGP’s first official night test kicked off, prior to the first round of the 2008 season next week. It all happened in preparation for the race on 9th March, also at the track, which will be the first Grand Prix ever to be run at night. The history-making illuminations, powered by nearly five and a half million watts of electricity and which represent the largest permanent sports lighting system in the world, lit the 5.4km circuit as the premier class riders started the first of two nights of testing. Kawasaki Racing Team rider, John Hopkins, took to the track on the 800cc Ninja ZX-RR despite still recovering from a groin injury sustained at Phillip Island in January. The 24-year-old Anglo-American managed 71 laps and a best time of 1’56.614, putting him in an impressive seventh position on the leader board, just over a second off Casey Stoner, the fastest man of the session, and a mere 0.043 seconds off sixth placed rider, Andrea Dovizioso. Getting used to the lighting was the first hurdle and one which all the riders seemed to overcome fairly quickly. However, as Hopkins pointed out as he tested Bridgestone tyre combinations throughout the seven hours, low, night time track temperatures will make for a difficult decision on the rubber come the race. He did, however, continue to forge ahead and recorded his fastest lap of the session right at the end: a positive sign of things to come. Anthony West, after making great progress during the last test at Jerez earlier this month, continued to test new chassis components on his Bridgestone-shod machine and was feeling increasingly confident in the revised set up. The 27-year-old from Queensland, Australia, had just put in his fastest time of the test when he lost the front and crashed at turn 16, the final right-hander before the long stretch down the start/finish straight. Bruised but otherwise unhurt, West climbed aboard his second bike and went back out to do some further laps. The test ran until 01:00 hours, one hour later than scheduled, due to the official, switching-on ceremony delaying the advertised start. Tomorrow’s test will begin at 17:00 hours, local time, and run until midnight. John Hopkins 7th – 71 Laps 1’56.614 “The priority today was to decide on a tyre for the first race next week and we evaluated many different combinations of both race and qualifying tyres. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to get on the bike and get stuck into testing because of my injury, although this is slowly improving day-by-day. The most difficult thing has been maintaining fitness whilst recovering but I managed to do some training this week and, despite still feeling sore, we got through quite a lot of laps today. The lighting around the circuit is good fun as it’s a bit different from the usual, but the track temperature is quite low and I could really feel it in the tyres, which are going to be a crucial factor for the race. Now we know what tyre selection we will be using, we are going to concentrate on the machine set-up tomorrow.” Anthony West 18th 51 Laps 1’57.787 “Tonight, our main task was to get accustomed to the floodlit circuit and to try a new chassis option we have. The frame we tried has made a big improvement to the rear grip, which we have had trouble with previously. The bike felt really good and I started pushing a bit hard, which caused me to crash. I lost the front at the last corner and I’m a bit bruised but no major problems. The lighting of the circuit is not totally consistent and it is a bit strange riding at night. The track does look a bit different, and it’s hard to find my lines, but overall it’s not hugely dissimilar to how it is in the day. I hope that tomorrow we can get some more laps on the bike in these conditions and continue working with this chassis.” Naoya Kaneko Kawasaki Technical Manager “This was the first practice under the lights at night. These conditions are quite unique because in usual circumstances the track temperature increases throughout the day, whereas in this situation the track temperature decreases and the humidity increases the closer we get to midnight. We completed various tyre tests, which indicated some direction we could take on race tyres, although we may need to adapt our set-up tomorrow to be able to make the most of the best race tyre. We have also tested some new machine components which, combined with the different tyres we have used, will bring some advantages and some disadvantages. Tomorrow, our main aim is to find the best compromise and finalise our race set-up.” More, from a press release issued by Repsol Media Service: THE REPSOL HONDA TEAM TAKES ON THE FIRST NIGHT TRAINING SESSION IN QATAR WITH CAUTION Nicky Hayden and Dani Pedrosa took intermediate positions during these atypical training sessions in Qatar Tonight the first nighttime training sessions ever held in motorcycling history were disputed on the Losail Circuit in Qatar. The expectation surrounding this historical moment finally had its setting, with the 18 riders who shall compete this season in the World MotoGP Motorcycling Championship. The sessions held under the floodlights installed over the Qatari track took place without incident, and the first to go onto the track under these special conditions was Italian rider Loris Capirossi. The Losail track was illuminated with a total of 1.000 floodlight towers, and the light the provided was the equivalent of 70 football stadiums or 1.300 basketball courts. There was an estimated total of 5’5 million Watts illuminating the Losail Circuit, enough to provide light for a fictitious road between Doha and Moscow- The “MotoGP Night Test” kicked off at 18:00 local time and finished seven hours later, at 1 O’Clock Friday morning. The sole incident which occurred was the fall of Kawasaki rider Anthony West, first rider to fall in this night test. The Repsol Honda Team riders faced this first night test with caution. Dani Pedrosa completed a total of 72 laps on the Qatar track, running his best time eighth position during the last. Teammate Nicky Hayden, twelvth best time, completed 91 laps and his fastest lap was 89. Tomorrow Friday, the MotoGP riders will end the 2008 pre-season training sessions, with another nocturnal training session on the Losail Circuit. Quotes MotoGP Dani Pedrosa >> “Today was a tough day for us, we didn’t manage to run good times and neither did we fix a good setup for the bike. We’ll try to do better tomorrow, but it’s obvious that we did not fare too well today. Tomorrow will be tough, but we’ll try to improve, because the first race here is just around the corner. The track looks good, but there are a lot of shady areas which are very deceiving, because your own shadow tricks you into thinking there’s another rider behind you. I’ve also noticed that my eyes are tired, because you have to keep straining them.” Repsol Nicky Hayden >> “I had a good time, it’s a bit different, but I thought it was fun. We need to ride faster, but the current sensations are quite good and it has been a great experience. I haven’t run with anybody else yet to see how they’re doing, but I think the lines taken on the curves didn’t change that much from during the day. I didn’t have any problems with the shadows, only that the floodlights give off a strange light. But the track, the grip and the rubbers seem to work well and I think they are correct. Last year we had to fight hard here, so basically we’ve started with the same adjustments we used in Jerez, checking a few things and trying to fine-tune them,” More, from a press release issued by Yamaha Racing: James Toseland dazzles at historic Qatar night test Tech 3 Yamaha rider James Toseland produced a dazzling performance under the spectacular Losail International Circuit’s floodlights to post the fifth fastest time on a historic night for the MotoGP world championship. The British rider was in sparkling form at the first official MotoGP test to be held under floodlights, with the two-day session a dress rehearsal for the season’s opening race to be held in Qatar on March 9. Toseland and Texan Colin Edwards quickly adapted to the unusual conditions, with both immediately producing competitive lap times. Toseland was second fastest until the final hour and Edwards, who had been in the top five for a large part of the first night, eventually finished 10th quickest. The Tech 3 duo carried out full 22-lap race simulations, gathering vital data in preparation for the first race. Toseland and Edwards assessed the performance of new Michelin front and rear tyres that were designed specifically to handle the unusually low track temperatures. Track temperature peaked at 22 degrees when the circuit opened at 6pm, but dropped to a low of just 15 degrees by the end at 1am. Both riders were happy with progress, while Toseland also evaluated a new YZR-M1 chassis for the first time. James Toseland 5th 1.56.251 – 90 laps “To end up fifth fastest on my first time here on the bike is really good. It was a good night, which sounds a bit strange saying that. They have done a fantastic job with the lights. I was here in November when just three corners were lit and to do what they have done is a great effort. You have to focus a bit more than normal and the only real problem was with the humidity. It made it a bit hazy later on and I had to wear a rain mask for my race simulation because I was getting some moisture on my visor. It is better to find that out now than halfway through the race. I’m really happy with the consistency of my race run. The front tyre I found worked really well, which is a massive plus because there is no harder place on a front tyre than this track. The braking stability with the new chassis is much better and it finishes the faster corners better. Those two factors at this circuit are key so I’m really pleased with that. The most pleasing aspect of the race run though was my consistency. It is so important to learn what the bike does later in a race and that experience is coming. I’m just getting more experienced with the bike when the grip goes down, and to be in a range of 0.8s through my whole race run shows I’m making progress.” Â Colin Edwards 10th 1.56.762 – 86 laps “As far as safety goes with the lights everything is fine. There is a little problem with shadows but once you know where they are it is fine and no major distraction. You forget how much you rely on peripheral vision. In the day you know exactly what inch of track you are on and don’t even think about it. But at night you think about it a bit more. At night I’m actually looking at the kerb as a reference where normally you don’t. It’s just a different mode you have to switch into. Once race mode kicks in you forget everything so I’ve got no worries about the lights and it didn’t hurt the lap times. Michelin have done a good job and I didn’t touch the bike. Michelin have obviously been working on getting heat into the tyres quicker and they have made an improvement. I didn’t have any tyre issues at all and my bike is running exactly the same setting as Sepang and Jerez. I’ve got a setting now that’s so good for my style that if we keep that going it will be awesome.”
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