Casey Stoner completed a clean sweep of the three Qatar MotoGP free practice sessions, but was made to work much harder during Friday night's final practice.

The 2007 world champion, who has moved to Repsol Honda after four years with Ducati, had dominated the first two practice sessions almost from start to finish.

By contrast, it took Stoner until his penultimate lap to finally quell the challenge of team-mate Dani Pedrosa in FP3, as the Spaniard put up an impressive display in a session that had added significance because it is closest to Sunday's race time.

FP3 ran from 20:55-21:40, while the first grand prix of the year will start at 22:00. Saturday's qualifying session, for example, is an 'early' 19:55-20:55.

Stoner made three short runs this evening, improving from low 1min 56sec on the first, to low 1min 55sec on the last. Both of Stoner's last two laps were good enough to be fastest.

Pedrosa spent his time differently, choosing to do two slightly longer runs. Pedrosa's best time came on his third lap of the first run, but his next best lap of the evening was several tenths slower and he still looks to trailing Stoner on race pace.

Whilst Stoner and Pedrosa have been 1-2 all weekend, third place for team-mate Andrea Dovizioso marked a clear improvement from the Italian. The bad news is that he was still half-a-second from Pedrosa and 0.7sec from Stoner.

Best of the non-Honda riders was world champion Jorge Lorenzo, in fourth place. The Factory Yamaha star may not have threatened the top two riders, but his race pace is once again looking impressive.

Lorenzo put in 13 consecutive fast laps at the end of the session - and he got quicker as the laps went on, setting his best time of the night on lap 12.

New team-mate Ben Spies was the final rider within one-second of Stoner, but is also looking strong for the second half of the race, having set his best lap of FP3 at the end of eight fast laps.

Sixth place and top Ducati went to Hector Barbera, whose penchant for following quicker riders (Karel Abraham employs similar tactics) means his genuine performances are often overlooked.

Barbera's surprise third place on Thursday may have been a one-off lap, aided by a tow from Nicky Hayden, but the Spaniard set two laps within one-tenth of each other during a four-lap run at the end of FP3.

Fellow satellite rider Colin Edwards finished a few tenths behind Barbera in seventh for Monster Yamaha Tech 3, with Valentino Rossi a few hundredths from the Texan in eighth place.

After an encouraging fifth on Thursday, Friday night was less kind to the new factory Ducati rider, who gained only a tenth compared with his best Thursday lap.

Rossi, the seven time MotoGP champion who won last year's Qatar race for Yamaha, was 1.271sec behind Stoner.

The Italian's race pace tonight seemed to be around mid-to-high 1min 56sec. Stoner looks to be able to run low 1min 55sec and Pedrosa mid-to-high 1min 55sec.

Pramac Ducati riders Randy de Puniet and Loris Capirossi completed the top ten.

Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rookie Cal Crutchlow, riding through the pain of a nasty finger injury sustained in a testing crash on Monday, was unable to repeat his impressive eighth place earlier this evening.

But don't be fooled by his eleventh place in FP3, Crutchlow was only 0.171sec from Barbera in sixth, illustrating just how close the mid-pack will be on Sunday.

While Crutchlow is recovering from injury, the rest of Alvaro Bautista's Qatar weekend is in doubt after the only Suzuki rider on the 2011 grid suffered a big fall with nine minutes of the session to go.

Bautista, who has been struggling with arm-pump problems, was seen grasping his left thigh after the accident and had to be carried from the track on a stretcher.

If Bautista is unfit, there is a slim chance that former Suzuki rider John Hopkins, who tested the GSV-R at Qatar last weekend, could potentially be called-up for qualifying, but time is very much against it.

Friday practice (2):

1. Stoner
2. Pedrosa
3. Dovizioso
4. Lorenzo
5. Spies
6. Barbera
7. Edwards
8. Rossi
9. de Puniet
10. Capirossi
11. Crutchlow
12. Aoyama
13. Simoncelli
14. Hayden
15. Abraham
16. Bautista
17. Elias



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