If the first session of free practice at Losail was a typical case of the Stoner Show, the young world champion stamping his authority on the field right from the get go, and with the most dictatorial jackboot he had to hand, the second session was a slightly different affair, in several interesting ways. Of course, the outcome was still the same, with Stoner topping the timesheets once again, but how he got there was a completely different story. In FP1, Stoner took fastest time just 8 minutes into the session, and held it for the rest of the hour.
Normal service was resumed, Friday evening, with Casey Stoner taking the top spot on his second lap, and never properly relinquishing it again. The slightly cooler conditions of early evening have added to the speed, as both Stoner and Lorenzo are inside the existing lap record.
The big surprise is Jorge Lorenzo, who is already very fast on his Fiat Yamaha. Lorenzo's arch nemesis Andrea Dovizioso is in third, ahead of Lorenzo's team mate Valentino Rossi. The first of the factory Hondas is Dani Pedrosa in 5th.
At last. The long winter break is over, and a new day dawns on MotoGP with the season opener at the Losail circuit in Qatar. Although it's not so much a new day as a new night, as MotoGP, in its continuing struggle to win fans over from other forms of motorsport, has scooped Formula 1 to stage the very first night race in motorsports. The fact that racing has been running under the lights for years in the US is being conveniently overlooked, as most Europeans remain blissfully unaware of NASCAR and other forms of stock car racing, and so to Dorna, it's the very first night race.
After Honda got their predictions of how to build a title-winning 800cc MotoGP bike so utterly wrong in 2007, expectations were raised that they would not make the same mistake again in 2008. If there was ever a year that you might expect HRC to come out with an unbeatable factory bike, surely this would be it.
For those of you who did not recently watch the Daytona 500 here in The States, you missed your best opportunity to see the handiwork of Musco Lighting prior to the GP of Qatar. Musco has been the premier outdoor lighting specialists in The States for 32 years. I first heard of them 23 (or more) years ago while I was marching in drum & bugles corps on American and Canadian football fields. For three years in the mid '80s, the annual Finals competitions were held in Madison, WI.
As the final few days count down before the first MotoGP race of 2008, and the tension and excitement starts to swell inside the breast of motorcycle racing fans, it's hard not to get carried away at the prospect of a brand new season. And there is much to get excited about: the entry of some of the most exciting young rookies into motorcycle racing's premier class; the first title defense for another new champion; and a slew of riders and, more importantly, manufacturers out to avenge themselves for last year.
On the second and final day, or rather, night of testing at Qatar, two rookies ended up at the top of the heap. After James Toseland had held the top spot for much of the session, it was Jorge Lorenzo who finished with the fastest time, nearly half a second faster than the current pole record, held by Valentino Rossi.
|Pos.||Rider||Bike||Time||Fast Lap||Total Laps|
|3||Randy De Puniet||Honda||1'56.062||85||88|
The first times are starting to appear from the first night time test at Qatar, in the warmup for next week's first ever night time Grand Prix. So far, it's Casey Stoner who is fastest, as usual. Because the session got underway late, the test is due to carry on until 1am local time, which is 10pm GMT.
Times from GPOne.com:
Times at 10pm local time:
It seems that Ducati's first world championship title has upset the major Japanese manufacturers a very great deal. After Honda got the FIM and MSMA to reduce the capacity to 800cc, they fully expected to be able to dominate the MotoGP class as they had after the previous change, the switch to four-stroke engines in 2002. They had not reckoned on a tiny Italian factory stealing their thunder by gambling on maximum horsepower, and humiliating the big players, and natural heirs to the MotoGP crown.