Reigning MotoGP champion Casey Stoner
kept his new Repsol Honda RC213V at the top of the timesheets during the first of Friday's practice sessions in Qatar, but only rose above three Yamaha riders in the closing minutes.
Factory Yamaha star Jorge Lorenzo, second to Stoner by 0.174sec on Thursday, led much of the 45-minutes. The Spaniard had dipped under the Australian's Thursday night best early on, then finally improved further with three-minutes remaining.
By that stage Andrea Dovizioso
and Ben Spies were forming an M1 lock-out of the top three positions, but Stoner then shot to the top by 0.214sec on his 12th of 14 laps.
Stoner finished the second of the three practice sessions 0.214sec ahead of Lorenzo, with new Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Dovizioso 0.688sec from the top in third and Spies 0.711sec from Stoner on the second factory bike.
Then came the top Ducati of satellite Pramac rider Hector Barbera (+0.718sec) in fifth, followed by Stoner's team-mate Dani Pedrosa
Pedrosa, fifth on Thursday, became MotoGP's first faller of the new season with a fast lowside after 15mins. The oft-injured Spaniard walked away looking at his left hand, but any fears proved unfounded as he returned in the closing stages and set his best time on the 10th of his 13 laps.
Behind Pedrosa, Nicky Hayden
(Ducati), Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha), Stefan Bradl (Honda) and Valentino Rossi
(Ducati) completed a top ten covered by 1.314sec.
The top CRT was Forward Racing Suter-BMW rider Colin Edwards, who turned the tables on Aspar ART pilot Randy de Puniet
by 0.144sec to take 13th place.
Edwards was 2.8sec from Stoner and 1.1sec from the slowest manufacturer bike, of Gresini Honda's Alvaro Bautista.
The final MotoGP free practice session at Qatar takes place later this evening.Friday practice (1):
14. de Puniet