Former world champion Casey Stoner produced a dazzling performance under the Losail International Circuit’s floodlights tonight, the Aussie dominating the second night of MotoGP testing.
Stoner had opted to sit out a rain disrupted first night yesterday and he only completed 37 laps on a second night hampered by cold and windy conditions in Doha.
The far from perfect conditions though did little to upset Stoner’s impressive return from major left wrist surgery as he logged a best time of 1.57.139.
That was a massive 0.608s faster than reigning world champion and chief premier class rival Valentino Rossi, who was second quickest with a best lap of 1.57.747.
Stoner set his best time on his 23rd lap on a track where he has proved unbeatable since 2007. He won his first MotoGP race in Qatar on his Ducati debut in 2007 and dominated last year’s historic first ever MotoGP race under floodlights 12 months ago.
Only Rossi, Tech 3 Yamaha rider Colin Edwards, factory Honda newcomer Andrea Dovizioso and Aussie Chris Vermeulen were able to lap within a second of Stoner.
Highlighting how much of an impact track conditions had on tonight’s test, Stoner’s best lap was a full two seconds slower than his best lap set during the 2008 race.
Rossi was content with second, even though he was overshadowed by Stoner again.
The Italian, who was only fifth on his Bridgestone debut in Qatar a year ago, said: “Today was good because first of all we were able to test! I am quite happy because I was fast from the start and the bike is a lot better than this time last year.
"The setting is completely different after a year with Bridgestone and we seem to be in good shape. The lap times are quite slow compared to the race because it is cold and also the track conditions aren’t perfect, but hopefully in a month’s time it will be quite a bit warmer.
"We worked well today, testing some things for the engine and some electronics, and everything is helping us to improve our setting and to be faster.
"Now I hope that we have good weather between now and tomorrow night and no more wind so that the track is cleaner tomorrow and we can improve the times a bit more.”
American Edwards continued his impressive start to 2009 by finishing third fastest. He set a best time of 1.57.817 to finish just 0.070s slower than former factory Yamaha team-mate.
Just 0.062s slower than Edwards was Italian Dovizioso as he ended up best Honda rider.
It was another tough night for British rider James Toseland though, who is desperately trying to rebuild his confidence after his 125mph high-side during the last test in Malaysia.
Toseland was the only rider to fail to break the two-minute barrier as he clocked a best time of 2.00.234 in his 51 laps. That left him nearly 0.5s slower than Ducati rookie Mika Kallio in last place. He ended 3.095s slower than Stoner.
1 Casey Stoner, Ducati - 1'57.139
2 Valentino Rossi, Yamaha - 1'57.747
3 Colin Edwards,Yamaha - 1'57.81
4 Andrea Dovizioso, Honda - 1'57.879
5 Chris Vermeulen, Suzuki - 1'58.018
6 Loris Capirossi, Suzuki MotoGP - 1'58.264
7 Jorge Lorenzo,Yamaha - 1'58.400
8 Alex De Angelis, Honda - 1'58.441
9 Nicky Hayden, Ducati - 1'58.577
10 Dani Pedrosa, Honda - 1'58.619
11 Randy De Puniet, Honda - 1'58.936
12 Toni Elias, Honda - 1'59.036
13 Yuki Takahashi, Honda - 1'59.153
14 Marco Melandri, Hayate - 1'59.195
15 Niccolo Canepa, Ducati - 1'59.266
16 Mika Kallio, Ducati - 1'59.764
17 James Toseland, Yamaha - 2'00.234