Having been fastest of all on his MotoGP comeback from wrist surgery during the first test of 2009 at Sepang last month, Casey Stoner made it two out of two with an awesome display at the Qatar night test.
Whilst Stoner had been just 0.094sec ahead of reigning MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi in Malaysia, he multiplied that advantage by ten at Qatar - sitting 0.989sec clear of Rossi's Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo by the end of the three nights, with Rossi 1.228sec behind.
To illustrate Stoner's exceptional advantage, Lorenzo to tenth placed Alex de Angelis was covered by one second.
“I'm obviously very happy with the lap time and the rhythm we put together today although I would have liked to have been able to get a few more laps in and test some more stuff,” said the Ducati Marlboro star.
Stoner - like Rossi, Lorenzo and several others - didn't record a competitive lap during the damp opening night, but was 0.6sec clear of The Doctor on Monday and lowered his best lap time by a further 1.4sec on Tuesday.
Three riders were caught out by the chilly conditions during the final night, including Stoner, but the Australian immediately returned to the track and set a series of hot laps including two efforts inside the 1min 56sec mark.
Stoner's quickest time of 1min 55.744sec was 0.591sec outside his race lap record set, on his way to victory, in warmer conditions at the 2008 season opener. The #27 then stayed in his garage for the final available hour as track conditions deteriorated.
“We knew the track conditions would get worse at around ten o'clock and that proved to be the case,” explained Stoner. “The crash was on the way into turn two and it was very similar to the one here last year - practically from an upright position. I got straight back on the other bike but with such an unpredictable track we decided to finish an hour early because the conditions were only getting worse.”
In terms of new parts, Stoner and factory team-mate Nicky Hayden experimented with electronics - but also a new carbon fibre swingarm (see separate story).
“We still managed to try a few things with the electronics - some of them good and some not so good and we confirmed the good feeling I had yesterday with the new swingarm, although we still need more time to work on it and that's what we'll be doing at Jerez,” said the 2007 world champion and 2008 title runner-up.