Those new to MotoGP might have got the two Rizla Suzuki riders mixed up on Friday night in Qatar.

That's because veteran Loris Capirossi, starting his record 300th grand prix, fell on his way to 13th place in opening practice - while Alvaro Bautista, making his MotoGP debut, stormed to a faultless seventh.

Bautista was just 0.180sec slower than World Superbike champion Ben Spies, the dominant rookie throughout testing, and the young Spaniard's pace was one of the biggest surprises of the opening night.

"I am happy with what we have done this evening," said Bautista, who had been twelfth fastest at the Qatar test three weeks ago. "The track condition was not as good as the test, but I'm still close to the best time I've ever done here. I'm only one-tenth off my best time and pleased with that.

"I had some problems getting the grip I wanted and it didn't feel as good as the test, so I tried the other chassis to see if it was better. It was and I feel it is certainly a step in the right direction, so we will continue to work with the new frame for the rest of the weekend.

"I hope that tomorrow I can improve my time and I think that it will be possible. We have all done a good job today and because this is my first race there is not much pressure on me so I am happy with that and I can just get on and do my best."

Capirossi suffered his fast crash just after the halfway point of the hour-long session. The Italian slid-off in a shower of sparks at over 150km/h and although his bike suffered quite substantial damage, Capirossi was able to walk away unscathed.

He made his way back to the pit-box, dusted himself down and went back out on-track to record his fastest time of the night on his very last lap.

"It has not been so good tonight, because when I went out for my third run I tried some different things and I crashed," he confirmed. "I then went out on the other bike and took it carefully to get the feeling back and towards the end of the session I was doing better and my time started to improve. Our potential is much better than what we did today, but I am not angry because I know we can improve a lot more tomorrow - that should be quite easy to do because today was not good enough!"