MotoGP Qatar test: Valentino Rossi happier with lights than lap times

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Valentino Rossi was happier with the spectacular Qatar floodlights than he was with his own performance as the Italian could only finish ninth quickest at the start of the historic first night test.

The Fiat Yamaha rider clocked a best time of 1:56.749 on the 70th of 82 laps he completed as he got his first chance to assess the floodlit Losail International Circuit on the outskirts of Doha.

Rossi’s best lap was a massive 1.419secs adrift of the lightning pace set by reigning world champion Casey Stoner, who smashed his own 2007 lap record to dominate the opening day’s action.

And 29-year-old Rossi, speaking exclusively to MCN, said: “On one side I am happy because for the safety, the lights give no problems.

“The only small issue I had was with judging the distance. I didn’t ride with anybody else to check what race conditions might be like, but this might be a small problem for overtaking in the race.

“The lights are good but for me it is still better to race in the day.”

While satisfied with the powerful lighting system installed in just under six months, Valentino Rossi was less than content with his riding.

Set-up issue was the main concern and he added: “I am a lot, lot slower than I expected.

“We have many things to try but the big problem was a lack of grip. The surface temperature was cold but other Bridgestone riders didn’t have the same problem as me.

“I didn’t have a lot of grip when I open the throttle and the rear is not very stable in acceleration.”

Valentino Rossi was expecting a further engine upgrade for the two-night Qatar test, but confirmed he had continued to run the same spec pneumatic valve engine that he first rode with at Sepang in January.

“Maybe we try something tonight (Friday-Saturday),” said Rossi.

Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo finished second fastest with a best time of 1:56.019 coming shortly before the track closed at 1am.

Qatar MotoGP day one results:

1. Casey Stoner, DUCATI MARLBORO 1’55.330 / 61 laps
2. Jorge Lorenzo, FIAT YAMAHA 1’56.019 / 77 laps
3. Randy De Puniet, LCR HONDA MotoGP 1’56.062 / 88 laps
4. Andrea Dovizioso, JiR TEAM SCOT 1’56.121 / 81 laps
5. James Toseland, TECH3 YAMAHA 1’56.251 / 90 laps
6. Alex De Angelis, SAN CARLO HONDA GRESINI 1’56.571 / 69 laps
7. John Hopkins, KAWASAKI RACING 1’56.614 / 71 laps
8. Dani Pedrosa, REPSOL HONDA TEAM 1’56.621 / 72 laps
9. Valentino Rossi, FIAT YAMAHA 1’56.749 / 82
10. Colin Edwards, TECH3 YAMAHA 1’56.762 / 86 laps
11. Toni Elias, ALICE TEAM – 1’57.007 / 85
12. Nicky Hayden, REPSOL HONDA TEAM 1’57.010 / 91 laps
13. Shinya Nakano, SAN CARLO HONDA GRESINI 1’57.223 / 79 laps
14. Chris Vermeulen, RIZLA SUZUKI 1’57.522 / 80 laps
15. Loris Capirossi, RIZLA SUZUKI 1’57.551 / 66 laps
16. Marco Melandri, DUCATI MARLBORO 1’57.593 / 70 laps
17. Sylvain Guintoli, ALICE TEAM 1’57.644 / 66 laps
18. Anthony West, KAWASAKI RACING 1’57.787 / 51 laps

Race lap record: 2007, Casey Stoner – 1’56.528 Qualifying record: 2007, Valentino Rossi – 1’55.002


Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt