Qatar MotoGP: Casey Stoner draws first blood in 2008

Published: 07 March 2008

Reigning world champion Casey Stoner made the perfect start to the defence of his MotoGP crown in 2008, with the Aussie fastest at the end of the first practice session in Qatar.

The factory Ducati rider was in command for most of the first session under the spectacular Qatar floodlights, surging to the top of the timesheets after just six minutes had elapsed.

Valentino Rossi briefly seized top spot but just eight minutes had been completed when Stoner reclaimed top spot.

His best lap of 1:55.870 beat impressive factory Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo by just 0.054secs.

Fiat Yamaha newcomer Lorenzo left it late to jump into second spot, with the double world 250 champion posting a best of 1:55.924.

That continued his fine form after he’d topped the timesheets during last week’s IRTA test.

Lorenzo’s factory Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi was fourth quickest as he prepares for his Bridgestone race debut.

Valentino Rossi’s 1:56.269 though was nearly 0.4secs slower than Casey Stoner, and he was beaten out of the top three by compatriot Andrea Dovizioso.

Biggest disappointments in the season’s opening practice session were factory Suzuki duo Loris Capirossi and Chris Vermeulen.

Capirossi was only 12th fastest while Aussie Vermeulen had a nightmare and languished down in 15th.

The French MotoGP winner was 1.7secs off Casey Stoner’s pace as Suzuki’s handling issues struck again.

Qatar MotoGP practice one results:
1 Casey STONER AUS Ducati Marlboro Team DUCATI 1'55.870
2 Jorge LORENZO SPA Fiat Yamaha Team YAMAHA 1'55.924
3 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA JiR Team Scot MotoGP HONDA 1'56.221
4 Valentino ROSSI ITA Fiat Yamaha Team YAMAHA 1'56.269
5 Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team HONDA 1'56.478
6 Randy DE PUNIET FRA LCR Honda MotoGP HONDA 1'56.525
7 Colin EDWARDS USA Tech 3 Yamaha YAMAHA 1'56.574
8 James TOSELAND GBR Tech 3 Yamaha YAMAHA 1'56.950
9 Nicky HAYDEN USA Repsol Honda Team HONDA 1'57.069
10 John HOPKINS USA Kawasaki Racing Team KAWASAKI 1'57.085
11 Marco MELANDRI ITA Ducati Marlboro Team DUCATI 1'57.137
12 Loris CAPIROSSI ITA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP SUZUKI 1'57.287
13 Alex DE ANGELIS RSM San Carlo Honda Gresini HONDA 1'57.561
14 Shinya NAKANO JPN San Carlo Honda Gresini HONDA 1'57.588
15 Chris VERMEULEN AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP SUZUKI 1'57.639
16 Toni ELIAS SPA Alice Team DUCATI 1'58.130
17 Anthony WEST AUS Kawasaki Racing Team KAWASAKI 1'58.912
18 Sylvain GUINTOLI FRA Alice Team DUCATI 1'59.006