Jorge Lorenzo has topped the final session of free practice, the factory Yamaha rider taking top spot after a storming performance from Monster Tech 3 Yamaha's Cal Crutchlow. Crutchlow had been fast all session, putting in a blistering lap with a few minutes to go, only to see Lorenzo blast past in the final moments. Fastest man of the first to FP session Casey Stoner was relegated to 3rd, the Repsol Honda man struggling with grip on his bike, and missing out on the opportunity to post a fast lap by stopping to remonstrate with a slower rider on his out lap.
Thomas Luthi has completed a clean sweep of free practice at Qatar, the Interwetten Paddock rider taking the top spot in all three sessions so far. Luthi held a sizable advantage for most of the session, but Pons Kalex rider Pol Espargaro cut his lead to just four hundredths of a second in the final moments. Espargaro's teammate Tito Rabat took third, ahead of Marc VDS Racing's Scott Redding and Claudio Corti of the Italtrans team.
Sandro Cortese has taken over at the top of the timesheets in the final session of practice for the Moto3 class, the Red Bull KTM rider just few hundredths quicker than Team Italia's Romano Fenati. Cortese, Fenati, RW Racing's Luis Salom and Estrella Galicia rider Maverick Vinales swapped the lead throughout the session, ending with just over a tenth of a second separating the four men. Salom was forced to settle for 3rd, behind Cortese and Fenati, with Vinales finally relegated to 4th.
Casey Stoner has topped the second session of free practice in the early evening of Qatar, the Repsol Honda man once again waiting until the end of the session to turn up the pace, deposing the Yamaha men from the top of the timesheets. Until that point, the timesheets had been dominated by Jorge Lorenzo, with Cal Crutchlow also putting in a brief appearance at the top.
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the first day of practice at Qatar:
ANTONELLI STRAIGHT ON THE PACE
Niccolo Antonelli made an impressive start to life as a Grand Prix rider tonight, showing maturity and potential in equal measures beneath the glare of the Losail floodlights. The youngster adapted quickly to the circuit and conditions, reacting well to a technical setback in the second of two free practice sessions this evening to finish tenth on the combined time sheets.
It's been a long time - too long, is the general opinion in the paddock, 5 months without MotoGP allows fan enthusiasm to sag - but MotoGP is back again. No more phony wars, this time, it's serious out in the desert.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the first day of practice at Qatar:
FIRST SESSION ON THE TRACK OF LOSAIL FOR THE ART MACHINE AND MATTIA PASINI
The 2012 World Championship officially started today for the MotoGP class, with the first free practice at the circuit of Losail.
Mattia Pasini took advantage of the session on the track to analize the performance of the ART machine here in Qatar, mainly counting on the setting and information that were previously gathered during the winter tests.
Thomas Luthi maintained control of the Moto2 class at Qatar, heading up the second session of practice at the end of the first day at Qatar. The massed Kalex ranks were left to give chase to the Interwetten Suter rider, Italtrans' Claudio Corti the man to get closest. Pons rider Pol Espargaro led a tight group in 3rd, edging teammate Tito Rabat and Marc VDS pairing of Scott Redding and Mika Kallio. Marc Marquez' lack of testing due to his eye injury is starting to show, the Spaniard ending the day in 7th, just ahead of Mike di Meglio and Takaaki Nakagami.
Maverick Vinales continues to lead the Moto3 class at Qatar, the Blusens Avintia man extending the lead he had in FP1 to over half a second. The problems the Ajo KTMs had during the first session of practice were quickly solved for Moto2, with Malaysian rider Zulfahmi Khairuddin taking second spot ahead of Danny Kent. Behind the KTMs came the Estrella Galicia pairing of Miguel Oliveira and Alex Rins.
As expected, Casey Stoner took first blood of the 2012 MotoGP season, the Repsol Honda rider staging a late charge to set the fastest lap of the session. Stoner dislodged Jorge Lorenzo from top spot, the Factory Yamaha rider having shown a very strong pace throughout. Third fastest was Nicky Hayden, the factory Ducati man just under half a second off the pace of Stoner, an impressive showing by the American.
Thomas Luthi brings his strong testing form into Qatar, topping the first session of free practice for the Moto2 class. Luthi put his Interwetten Suter ahead of the Pons bikes of Tito Rabat and Pol Espargaro, while Marc Marquez ended the session as 4th fastest.
Championship favorite Maverick Vinales put his name in the history books by becoming the first ever rider to top an official Moto3 practice session. The Spaniard ended the session two tenths ahead of Louis Rossi, and half a second ahead of Luis Salom.
2012 is a year of transition for MotoGP. The return of the 1000cc bikes is just the start of the changes that will transform the series over the coming years, in an attempt to contain the costs of the series which spiraled out of control during the 800cc era, but for now, we have the mouthwatering spectacle of the fastest motorcycles ever to grace a racetrack.