Despite leading all three track sessions at Qatar this weekend, winning at the Losail circuit for the past two seasons and securing pole position for the 2009 event by 0.473sec, Casey Stoner is taking nothing for granted.

As well as the ever-present threat of reigning six-time MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi, who will start second on the grid, question marks remain over the changeable weather and track conditions ahead of Sunday's night's season-opening race. Not to mention Stoner's unraced wrist, following winter surgery.

Racing at Qatar will not take place if it rains, due to the glare from the floodlights.

"It rained a little bit at 'lunchtime' between the two practice sessions today but it was gone as quickly as it arrived and we were relieved that we were able to ride at all," admitted the Ducati Marlboro star.

"There is a little bit of dust and dirt that seems to come down with the rain here so we knew the track conditions would be slick and the lap times wouldn't come down much. The reality was that there was so much dirt out there that the softer compound tyres worked virtually like a qualifier and only lasted for a couple of laps.

"Even on a race tyre it is hard to predict whether your set-up is going to work because the conditions are different every time we go out so we're going to have to wait and see what tomorrow brings," Stoner insisted.

"It's impossible to guess what could happen in the race but generally I'm happy with our set-up and the main thing for us at this early stage is to pick up points, keep working on our weaknesses and make sure we don't make the same mistakes as last year by getting to the middle of the season with problems to fix," he insisted.

Stoner won last year's race by over five seconds from Jorge Lorenzo, with Rossi fifth on his Bridgestone debut.

Stoner's new team-mate Nicky Hayden injured his back in a huge accident at the end of the session and is 'doubtful' for the race (see separate story).


Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment

Safety should be of paramount importance.Closely followed by a high possibility of exciting racing.
All efforts need to be directed so to ensure these things plus the continuance of MotoGP at the top of the food chain in terms of outright laptimes.
Never understood the fuel restrictions.Surely they need to be dropped to allow the continued performance increases.
Anyways the control tyres are great.
One other thing the testing times and practice should not have been shortened.

Fantastic stuff Casey!
True poetry in motion around a race track!!!
GP Omnipresence is Awe Inspiring to watch.