Casey Stoner may have been shuffled from first to third during final practice for the MotoGP season opener in Qatar, but the Repsol Honda rider was far from worried.
Stoner looked on course to complete a perfect practice sweep as he led the way with just minutes of FP3 to go, at which point Yamaha riders Jorge Lorenzo
and Cal Crutchlow moved ahead after switching to a soft rear tyre.
Stoner was poised to respond, albeit still with the harder rear, only to be held up by slower riders. The Australian's best time was thus set on only his 4th of 13 laps, but he still finished just 0.372sec from Lorenzo.
“Today has been pretty good for us in general,” said Stoner, fastest from the 9th to 41st minute of the final session.
“We've been able to turn down the electronics a lot more and now I have more feeling and connection with the rear tyre which gave me a lot more confidence. This allowed me to do some good lap times with some pretty old tyres.
“A few people got in our way throughout the session so we were unable to show what we were really capable of, but we know how we feel and we're confident for qualifying tomorrow."
Team-mate Dani Pedrosa
was fifth fastest and suffered a fall in FP2.
"The day wasn't as good for us as we would have liked," said the Spaniard. "I had some problems with the electronics and I couldn't ride at a hundred percent, especially in the exits of the corners where we have more issues.
"Let's hope the mechanics can find a solution and we can have a good qualifying session tomorrow.
"The crash in the first session was totally unexpected; it was on my first lap of the second exit and I was not pushing at all. But I escaped unhurt and do it's ok."