2010 Qatar Test Day 1 Times - Rossi Beats Out Stoner And Spies

The first day of the final test for the MotoGP class before the season commences saw Valentino Rossi continue his domination of testing, ending the session three tenths ahead of his nearest rival Casey Stoner. The Fiat Yamaha rider was constantly at the top of the timesheets, only really ceding the top spot when he paused for dinner late on in the evening. Despite the track cooling and the evening dew which started to form, Rossi took another half a second off his best time to stamp his authority on the session.

Casey Stoner found himself demoted to second, at a track where he has won three years in a row, but the Australian pronounced himself happy with the test, telling GPOne.com that the bike was working really well, especially on used tires. The Ducati Marlboro rider did comment that he would like some more power with the long-life engines, as would everybody, but he praised the new engine character, which made the Ducati much easier to ride.

Stoner and Rossi were the only two of the Fantastic Four to get near to the top of the timesheets, Jorge Lorenzo still recovering from a broken bone in his hand and Dani Pedrosa still having rear grip problems with the new Ohllins suspension on his Repsol Honda. The Spanish duo's difficulties opened up the field for the Tech 3 Twosome of Ben Spies and Colin Edwards to take 3rd and 4th on the Monster Tech 3 Yamahas. Spies in particular was impressive, leading the field at one stage and running constantly close to the pace of Stoner and Rossi, despite still taking "baby steps" in exploring the limits of his Yamaha M1. Even baby steps can be too far, though, as Spies crashed late in the session while trying to get more feel from the front Bridgestone tire by experimenting with tire pressures. Spies' teammate Colin Edwards pronounced himself happy with the new tires Bridgestone had brought, putting in far more than race distance on a single set of tires, just as Casey Stoner had done. What he was less happy about was the gap to Spies, Edwards ending the session nearly six tenths behind his teammate.

Randy de Puniet finished the day in 5th, fractionally behind Edwards and ahead of fellow Honda Andrea Dovizioso, though HRC would not have planned for the satellite LCR Honda to finish ahead of Dovizioso's factory Repsol RC212V. Jorge Lorenzo ended the session in 7th, pleased to have done so well with an injured hand, but still suffering under braking. Lorenzo was marginally faster than Marlboro Ducati's Nicky Hayden, the American improving his pace but still a way off his teammate in 8th. Dani Pedrosa ended the session in 10th, just behind Pramac Ducati's Mika Kallio and over 1.6 seconds behind Valentino Rossi. Pedrosa is a long way off the pace at Qatar so far, and Repsol Honda have a lot of work to do to catch the Fiat Yamaha and Marlboro Ducati.

Hector Barbera was the fastest of the "mortal" rookies, ending the day in 13th nearly two and a half seconds behind Rossi. Barbera put his Yellow Pages Ducati ahead of the Interwetten Honda of Hiroshi Aoyama, who continued his careful adaptation to the MotoGP bike, finishing three thousandths ahead of the San Carlo Gresini Honda of Marco Simoncelli. Behind Simoncelli, Aleix Espargaro took the penultimate position on the Pramac Ducati, while Alvaro Bautista rounded out the timesheet on the Rizla Suzuki. There was little to choose between the rookies, less than eight hundredths separating Barbera from Espargaro, with Bautista just another six hundredths behind Espargaro.

Testing continues - and concludes - on Friday.

Times from day 1 of the MotoGP test at Qatar, courtesy of MotoGP.com:

Pos No. Rider Bike Time Diff Prev Laps
1 46 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 1'55.402 0.000   64
2 27 Casey Stoner Ducati 1'55.717 0.315 0.315 48
3 11 Ben Spies Yamaha 1'55.954 0.552 0.237 44
4 5 Colin Edwards Yamaha 1'56.540 1.138 0.586 59
5 14 Randy De Puniet Honda 1'56.588 1.186 0.048 54
6 4 Andrea Dovizioso Honda 1'56.811 1.409 0.223 65
7 99 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1'56.838 1.436 0.027 45
8 69 Nicky Hayden Ducati 1'56.855 1.453 0.017 77
9 36 Mika Kallio Ducati 1'56.923 1.521 0.068 72
10 26 Dani Pedrosa Honda 1'57.047 1.645 0.124 60
11 65 Loris Capirossi Suzuki 1'57.099 1.697 0.052 40
12 33 Marco Melandri Honda 1'57.605 2.203 0.506 63
13 40 Hector Barbera Ducati 1'57.822 2.420 0.217 62
14 7 Hiroshi Aoyama Honda 1'57.888 2.486 0.066 75
15 58 Marco Simoncelli Honda 1'57.891 2.489 0.003 63
16 41 Aleix Espargaro Ducati 1'57.898 2.496 0.007 67
17 19 Alvaro Bautista Suzuki 1'57.960 2.558 0.062 56

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Spies continues to look daunting. Kevin Schwantz' prediction that Ben could win a race this year doesn't look very far-fetched.

Spies did pretty well at Losail on the Superbike last year, winning pole and both races. That was in the daylight, so it's definitely an adjustment, but I would expect him to impress here.

It has been too long since someone new stepped in and challenged the "Aliens." He obviously runs well at Qatar in the daylight but to go out in his first ever attempt under the lights and one up all but Stoner and Rossi? Mladin had some high praise for him in an article on Crash as well. I Hope he is able to keep his head and not get drawn into the games that MotoGP is so notorious for. The years riding with Mat have likely thickened his skin a bit in preparation for this. Going to be fun to watch!

Ben hasn't raced at half of the tracks on the calendar. Even if he has a stellar showing at Qatar, he's still only raced at one of the next 8 tracks on the calendar (albeit no one has seen Silverstone yet). To score just 8 podiums, he'll need to podium at every track he's ever raced...........on a satellite bike.

I'm extremely bullish on Spies (I'm a Texan), but 2 wins and 7 additional podium finishes would be a great season by an established veteran. By a rookie it would be unheard of, and by a rookie who's never raced half of the tracks, it would be unrealistic, imo.

Maybe just 7 podiums. That would be an epic achievement by itself. ONE win in a dry race on a satellite bike in the 800-era by a rookie would be legendary.

Spies was new to most tracks there too and only took one or 2 sessions to be at the top of the list and won 1/2 the races. And won the title as a rookie. Impressive achievements for someone new to the series, tracks, and team.

Rossi, Lorenzo, Stoner and Spies will be at the front each race with some guest appearances by Hayden, Edwards, and Pedrosa.

The rest of the mid pack riders should do some soul searching after seeing Spies results. No BS, no excuses, all focus. The rest of the rookies should be running scared, all down there at the bottom of the list 2+ sec off the pace. Poor little 250 guys.

It's testing. Until the flag drops at an actual race it's still a little early to condemn anyone to a certain position at the front OR the back of the field which he will then hold forever and ever and never get away from... That's why the actual racing is so interesting - things change and speculations on race results based on preseason test times are exactly that, speculations.

Besides that, it's just a sport. Nobody's running scared and there's always room for improvement for everybody.

Sorry, should've put 'imho' there. I didn't know my website forum posts were prohibiting any riders from progressing upward in the standings.

'Running scared' is just an expression, I suggest you take your own advice.

It would be very good if we all calmed down and maintained a civil tone. That would save me having to delete a lot of intemperate comments. Spies is clearly an exceptional talent, but we won't know exactly how exceptional until about the Sachsenring.

Well, if I misunderstood you, I'm sorry. While comments and forum posts are of course everyone's opinions I simply got a bit of a "matter of fact" and "he's going to get them" vibe from your earlier post which I perceived as a bit hasty and therefore reacted on that notion.

However, I'm guessing much of it is due to the fact that Spies praise has taken on some very silly forms on the web lately and I've gotten a bit overstrung on that. No offense.

I was a bit matter of fact, sorry. But considering Spies set a pole position record in his first season, most at tracks he had never seen before, on a first year production bike model, some silly praise is expected. Having a 50% WSB win record is not too bad.

Somehow I don't see Rossi, Stoner, Lorenzo and Pedrosa handing over the MotoGP crown to Spies or anyone else. Who was the last SBK champion to come to MotoGP? Didn't he look pretty good at first? Spies hasn't even raced a single race and already the know-nothings are ready to crown him champion. I agree he's a very talented guy but give me a break.

I believe the excitement around Spies extends far beyond those who might be called "know-nothings" (assuming you are not talking about the political movement in the US from the 1800s). In fact, I would rate the level of knowledge of most members here rather high. Simply disagreeing with them is sufficient, there isn't really a need to question their knowledge or intelligence.

I love that Ben has thrown the cat amongst the pigeons so early. No way is he going to get sucked in to mind games, he just seems so focussed on his own world that he likely doesn't even know anyone else is trying to get into his head. Mladin couldn't, so I doubt anyone else will.
Whether he'll win a race is still a fascinating question, isn't it? If Dovi could, anything's possible on any given day :-)

It's going to be a great season! (he says every year)

Mister Spies is, without a doubt, the real deal. I'm with motodog-650. I'd be more surprised if Ben didn't get a win then if he did. Notice he did fewer laps then all except Loris.

Now about honda...talk about needing a reboot. Maybe they should give an orange bike to RDP.

And Bautista, wonder how he's liking his factory ride. For all the talk of how it takes a 250 rider, superbike riders have no chance and no one can catch the 'aliens'... it looks like Spies may change that tune.

Can't wait to see how things unfold :)

Dude, in all fairness, look at the bikes Spies and Bautista are riding. Yamaha said themselves that both the factory and satellite team will be starting out with the same material this year. And the Yamaha is arguably the best bike or at least the best overall package on the grid. While the Suzuki... well, I think you get my point.

Not to take anything away from Spies' results so far, but please don't make any generalisations based on a satellite Yamaha SBK rider vs a factory Suzuki 250cc rider. It just doesn't work.

Yeah, i didn't mean to compare the riders. I was commenting on Bautista's choice to take a factory ride over the second ducatis, which i think was a very bad call on his part.

I'm still not convinced the yamaha is the best bike either. Though there is little doubt they have the best riders (except for Stoner). Wonder how things would look if you put those 4 guys on the ducs.

Anyway, we are all just blowing smoke until the racing starts. Which is fine, and fun.

Bring on Qatar!

I'll blow a little more hot air and predict.. Stoner, Rossi, Spies on the box in that order..and RDP in 4th!

/runs for cover :)

Pretty soon Rossi will probably start the mind-games with Spies, especially if Ben finishes in front of him. Can't wait to see that stuff roll off Spies like water from a duck's back. Pray that this year produces one good Doctor/Texas Terror battle.

You don't get to be in the 'Aliens' club with a couple of good qualifying sessions. Spies will probably take over from Edwards. He will be a solid 5th in the championship and if he is lucky a couple of podiums.
When Rossi moves to Ducati for 2011, Spies will move into the factory yamaha team. He might win races then.
But Stoner will be strong on the Honda in 2011 and let's not forget Lorenzo.
Nevertheless, the racing in 2010 (and 2011) will be FANTASTIC !!

I agree that this is only a test session and time comparisons mean little. I’ll get excited when Spies finishes on the podium at the RACE in Qatar next month.

That’s as far as the agreement goes though. You must be drinking Rossi’s Kool-Aid as Rossi is going to finish his career at Yamaha. He has the fastest (or most consistently fast) bike on the grid now. Why would he walk away from all he and Burgess have developed only to hand it all to Lorenzo? And why would Stoner go to Honda to race a slower bike?

There’s a reason why the silly season is named “silly”. Any discussion of it before August (much less before the season actually starts) is beyond ridiculous.

Rossi on Ducati, Stoner on Honda? Don't see that happening. I can see Lorenzo on the Honda next year as his contract is up and honda really needs someone and yamaha doesn't.

As to Ben, he's won the last 4 championships he's contested. He's no fluke. He'll spank Edwards every race he finishes.

//disclaimer : this is just passing the time making guesses. no one get excited!

Love Les.

I agree with you here Tonyfumi, although being from the US myself, I'd like to see Spies win one, I don't think he will do it in a dry race.

I'm pumped to see some racing action. If Spies manages to win a race this year under normal circumstances that will be an amazing achievement. I'd rate that higher than Rossi's 2 wins in 2000. I just hope to see closer racing in 2010.

Whee!!! Good stuff... alien in training.

Anyway, HONDA?! So sad... if they don't sign Stoner, they're nuts. And being replaced by Stoner, this will be the ultimate indignity for Pedrosa.

I am interensted to see what Spies will do and hope for another challenger this year but......Toseland was 2nd on the grid at Qatar in his 1st race. 2 years later he's back where he started - in WSBK.

I'm not saying that Toseland and Spies are similar, I am mearly stating that beating Rossi, Stoner, Lorenzo & Pedrosa can be done.

By Jerez we'll start to know if he is the 5th Alien or 4th if Pedrosa continues to struggle...

Is it too early to say that Dani Pedrosa has lost his "alien" status and is now relegated to human again? After the first two tests at Sepang, I would have hoped the eggheads at Honda would have found a solution by the time Qatar rolled around OR are the Showas that Pedrosa and Dovi using taking that much of a performance hit?

That they are both languishing more than a second off the pace doesn't bode well unless they found an overnight solution.

They're using Ohlins. From Dani's remarks in the press that's the main problem.

The LCR team used Ohlins last year. They were the only Honda on Ohlins which probably explains why RDP was first Honda yesterday. I don't think Honda is supplying Showa at all this season.