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Stoner dominates opening practice in Qatar

Casey Stoner fastest during Thursday practice for the Qatar MotoGP, the first round of the 2011 season, Valentino Rossi 5th...
New Repsol Honda rider Casey Stoner dominated the first MotoGP track session of the 2011 racing season, at Qatar on Thursday night.

The Australian, the man to beat for much of pre-season testing, set a blistering pace from the off - and was over two-seconds clear after just three practice laps of the Losail circuit!

The opposition got closer, but the former Ducati star also made minor improvements throughout the session.

The 2007 world champion's superiority was never threatened and Stoner enjoyed a 0.610sec advantage by the end of the 45-minutes.

Stoner's third lap would still have been quick enough to keep him fastest and he was the only rider to lap in the 1min 55sec, with his best a 1min 55.752sec. Stoner had set a 1min 55.681sec during Monday's test.

In a repeat of the Qatar test, Stoner's nearest rival once again proved to be team-mate and 2010 title runner-up Dani Pedrosa.

Hector Barbera produced one of the biggest surprises of the evening by snatching third, after benefitting from a tow behind fellow Ducati rider Nicky Hayden.

Fourth place went to San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Simoncelli, but it was another Italian who grabbed greater attention in the closing minutes.

MotoGP megastar Valentino Rossi, just 13th at the end of testing, finished his first official grand prix session with a Ducati Desmosedici in a far more competitive fifth place - ahead of his former Factory Yamaha Team riders.

Rossi, winner of last year's race for Yamaha, worked his way steadily forwards from the lower reaches of the top ten to fifth (+0.727sec from Stoner) on his 19th and final lap.

Related Pictures

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mick - Unregistered

March 17, 2011 6:21 PM

Dray,how many times do you have to be told that Honda are not using DCT????????????????????????? There would be little point using an illegal system if it is bound to get you disqualified! Think about it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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