Hayden storms desert

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Reigning world champion Nicky Hayden has topped the timesheets on the first morning of the IRTA test in Qatar.

Just before 1pm local time, the American posted an impressive 1.57.087 to leapfrog Yamaha rivals Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards, who had set the pace all through the first four hours of track time.

Hayden’s best on the new RC212 Honda 800 was 0.3s inside Rossi’s 2006 990cc lap record and he was comfortably best Honda rider on track.

It appears though that some riders are having problems with official time keeping transponders, with Australian Casey Stoner only registering four laps completed on what is supposed to be official timing at the three-day test.

British rider Jeremy McWilliams has made a tentative return to track action this morning too. Sidelined with a broken left femur since late November, McWilliams was passed fit to ride as the new generation 800cc machines took to the track for the first time at the Losail International Circuit today.

The 42-year-old underwent more surgery last Friday to remove one of two screws from his left knee, and the Ilmor rider has completed seven laps this morning in Doha. His best time was a 2.07.660, some 10s adrift of Hayden’s top time.

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt