Nico Terol was the fastest man in the first session of the day at Qatar, heading the second session of free practice for the 125cc comfortably. The Bancaja Aspar rider was three tenths of a second faster than Tuenti Derbi teammates Pol Espargaro and Efren Vazquez. Ajo's Sandro Cortese was 4th fastest of the session. British rider Bradley Smith improved his position from yesterday, leaping from 12th up to 6th, having solved the carburettor problems he had with this bike on Friday.
Results of the QP2 session for the World Supersport class at Valencia:
Results of Superpole for the World Superbike class at Valencia:
Max Biaggi dominated the final session of free practice for the World Superbike class at Valencia, putting a quarter of a second behind his Alitalia Aprilia and the Alstare Suzuki of Sylvain Guintoli. Althea Ducati's Carlos Checa took 3rd spot, ahead of Sterilgarda Yamaha's Cal Crutchlow.
Results of the FP2 session for World Superbikes at Valencia:
A new season means new jobs not just for riders, but also for mechanics, press officers, hospitality staff and many other people inside the MotoGP paddock, as the off-season team shuffle moves personnel about. In the Fiat Yamaha Team, the biggest change was the departure of Daniele Romagnoli as manager of Jorge Lorenzo's side of the garage, and his replacement by Wilco Zeelenberg, former 250 and World Supersport star, and manager of Yamaha's championship-winning World Supersport team last year.
MotoMatters.com caught up with Zeelenberg at the end of the day at Qatar, and sat down for 10 minutes to talk about his new role. How was he getting on as manager to Jorge Lorenzo? "I'm fitting in very well," the Dutchman said. "There's a good atmosphere in the team and everyone is working very well together."
Fitting in to the job had been relatively easy for Zeelenberg. "The job I am doing here is basically the same as I did in World Supersport," he said. "Just the surrounding hype is much bigger."
Max Biaggi has taken the provisional pole position for World Superbikes at Valencia, after a last minute dive to the front. The gap could hardly be bigger: the Alitalia Aprilia rider edged out Althea Ducati's Carlos Checa by just two thousandths of a second. Pata S&G's Jakub Smrz is another two hundredths behind, while Checa's teammate Shane Byrne is a couple of hundredths behind him.
Alstare Suzuki's Leon Haslam completes the top 5, all of whom are within a tenth of each other. The rest of the field is similarly close, with BMW's Ruben Xaus in 18th the last man to be inside a second of the leader.
Overall results from both qualifying sessions for the World Superbike class at Valencia:
After the Motocard.com Kawasakis dominated proceedings yesterday, Kenan Sofuoglo struck back. The HANNSpree Ten Kate rider topped the timesheets during the second session of WSS free practice by over four tenths of a second. The Kawasakis were forced to settle for 2nd and 4th, with Katsuaki Fujiwara beating out Joan Lascorz. The filling in the Kawasaki sandwich was Mallorcan David Salom - supported in part by MotoGP star Jorge Lorenzo - aboard the BE1 ParkinGO Triumph.
Results of the FP2 session for the World Supersport class at Valencia:
The night race at Qatar is spectacular alright, but it certainly has its downsides. For example, it's ten to four in the morning as I type this, and I've been back at the hotel for about 15 minutes. I'll go to sleep in an hour or so, then be up at some weird time in the afternoon.
Ah, I hear you say, surely the practice was finished by 11:30pm, what took you so long? Well, the journalists start work when the riders finish, and we start the chase around the paddock for interviews with riders, a kind of mad scramble to listen to what riders have to say about the races. Qatar being both a night race and a flyaway, it's doubly bad. For the debrief with Jorge Lorenzo, for example, we were crammed between a fence and the prefab hut which the teams are using as their headquarters at Qatar:
Casey Stoner took first blood in MotoGP's season opening Free Practice session, dominating the timesheets and putting over half a second between himself and his nearest challengers. Fiat Yamaha's Valentino Rossi took an early lead, cracking into the 1'57s on his third lap, but he would hold his lead for just 15 minutes. The Marlboro Ducati rider then took over, and continued to control the practice from then on.
Rossi was to suffer another painful defeat at the end of the session, when teammate Jorge Lorenzo pipped him to 2nd place by just two thousandths of a second. But the Mallorcan was immediately punished for his hubris, crashing out with a couple of minutes to go.
Andrea Dovizioso finished 4th, and first Honda, the Repsol rider spending most of the session mid-pack, but finding some speed towards the end. Nicky Hayden had an even worse start to the session, sitting down in 15th at one point. But a trip to the pits seemed to solve his woes, and the American soon bounced back to end the day in 5th.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Ben Spies made another big impression, regularly featuring in the front three, but as the times dropped, he found himself bumped down to 6th. Alvaro Bautista had a very strong debut on the Rizla Suzuki, ending 7th, 6 places ahead of his teammate Loris Capirossi, who crashed spectacularly in the middle of the session.
The first official free practice session for the Moto2 bikes was a strange and exciting affair, with the timesheets changing rapidly and continuously. The 41 bikes that crowded track made it difficult for the riders to get a fast lap in, but the track slowly cleared, and times plummeted as the riders and teams got used to the track.
RSM Scot rider and MotoGP refugee Alex de Angelis topped the timesheets for most of the session, with Marc VDS Racing's Scott Redding taking the lead for fifteen minutes before being demoted by De Angelis once again. Julian Simon confirmed his good form on the Mapfre Aspar RSV, setting the 3rd fastest time, while Technomag rider Dominique Aegerter finished 4th.
Former MotoGP, 250 and 125 riders dominated proceedings, their experience at Qatar giving a telling advantage over the production riders who had been fast in testing. Claudio Corti was the first of the non-Grand Prix riders, ending down in 19th 1.7 seconds off De Angelis, while Kenny Noyes ended the day in 21st. With a couple of sessions to go before racing on Sunday, things are likely to change quite a bit before then.
Results of FP1 for the Moto2 at Qatar:
After such a long, long winter, the bikes finally rolled out on track at Qatar. First up were the 125cc youngsters, and it was a Derbi clean sweep of the top four. Pol Espargaro finished fastest, with Efren Vazquez and Marc Marquez both three tenths behind him. The gap from Marquez was over half a second, Sandro Cortese taking 4th, ahead of Nico Terol, the first of the Aprilias. Britain's Danny Webb ended in 10th, with title hope Bradley Smith well down in 12th, nearly three seconds off Espargaro's pace.
Results of FP1 for the 125cc class at Qatar:
Kawasakis continue to dominate the World Supersport class, with Katsuaki Fujiwara beating his Motocard.com Joan Lascorz for the second session in a row. Fujiwara increased his advantage over the Spaniard, while the Hondas closed up behind. Ten Kate's Michele Pirro was the 3rd fastest man, finishing ahead of Parkalgar's Eugene Laverty. The Triumphs of David Salom and Chaz Davies completed the top 6.
Results of QP1 for the World Supersport class at Valencia: