Having been fastest of all at the previous Sepang test, Casey Stoner continued his 2009 test domination by pulling almost one second clear of his nearest rival on the third and final night of the Qatar MotoGP test.

Stoner, like many of the leading riders, didn't record a quick lap during the damp and dirty opening night, but was already over 0.6sec quicker than Valentino Rossi by the end of the second night.

Tuesday saw that advantage grow even further, as the Ducati Marlboro rider lowered his best lap time by almost 1.4sec to at least get within sight of his own race lap record, set during warmer conditions on the way to victory in the 2008 Qatar season opener.

Stoner, who put more laps on Ducati's new carbon-fibre swingarm (see separate story), fell without harm at on turn two soon after setting his best time, but was back out on track within an hour.

A Fiat Yamaha was once again Stoner's closest rival. However, this time it wasn't reigning six time MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi, but his young team-mate Jorge Lorenzo.

Just as at Sepang, the 2008 MotoGP rookie of the year had struggled during the first two days (nights) but then found a significant improvement on the final outing, although the young Spaniard - who took pole and a podium during a stunning MotoGP debut at Qatar last year - was 0.989sec behind Stoner.

Rossi was a further 0.239sec behind for a final third position after struggling in the colder temperatures at the end of the night, while Chris Vermeulen bounced back from a Monday night fall to confirm the 2009 GSV-R's improved competiveness with fourth position.

The Australian edged out Stoner's new team-mate Nicky Hayden by just 0.001sec as the American enjoyed his best dry performance as a Desmosedici rider, although the gap to Stoner remains almost 1.5sec.

Loris Capirossi, who led the Suzuki charge at Sepang, was sixth after a fall on the final night, with Randy de Puniet confirming his claimed progress with seventh position for LCR Honda.

The Frenchman was also the leading RC212V rider with Repsol Honda's Andrea Dovizioso only eighth fastest, while factory team-mate Dani Pedrosa was absent after being injured on the second night.

Despite third place on Monday, Colin Edwards dropped to ninth for the newly named Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team. San Carlo Honda Gresini riders Alex de Angelis and Toni Elias were tenth and eleventh, with de Angelis the final rider within two seconds of Stoner.

Pramac Ducati team-mates Mika Kallio and Niccolo Canepa were also evenly matched, in 12th and thirteenth. While Kallio fell on Monday, it was Canepa who slipped off his Desmosedici on Tuesday.

Fellow MotoGP rookie Yuki Takahashi also fell on Tuesday and finished the test 14th for Team Scot, with Tech 3's James Toseland rising off the bottom of the timesheets by one place on the final night at the expense of Marco Melandri.

Melandri, riding for the newly renamed 'Hayate Racing Team' - following Kawasaki's factory withdraw - the Italian had started the test with second place to Hayden on the rain-interrupted opening night, but was unable to keep pace with his rivals as the track conditions improved during the test.

Despite improving by 0.9sec between Monday and Tuesday, the former MotoGP World Championship runner-up was left over three seconds from Stoner - but only 0.065sec from Toseland.

The third and final 2009 pre-season test takes place at Jerez from March 28-29, when Pedrosa and Sete Gibernau will be aiming to return to action. The first race of the new season will then be held at Qatar on the evening of April 12.



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