Colin Edwards quickly stamped his authority on the Qatar GP weekend, by setting the pace in the first ever free practice session at the new Losail circuit this morning, and then getting within one lap of taking provisional pole in the afternoon qualifying session.

Ultimately, the Texan would be denied that position by Ruben Xaus, who put his d'Antin Ducati 0.308secs under the Telefonica Honda rider's time on his very last lap of the afternoon, but it didn't diminish Edwards' effort.

"I knew that the fact we were riding at a completely new circuit would be beneficial to me because I'm used to having to learn circuits in a short space of time," explained Colin, currently tipped to leave Honda for Yamaha at the end of this season.

"This morning we tried out different tyres and set-up combinations and I felt good," he added. "The circuit is quite slippery but it improved a little in the afternoon. I think we're working well and I'm sure we can knock a good second off the time."

Team-mate Sete Gibernau completed a promising day for Fausto Gresini's team by claiming a late third, on the outside of the provisional front row.

"It's a new track for everybody, we don't have any previous data, but I am very satisfied with this result on the first day," said Sete, 0.265secs slower than Edwards but in much better shape than he's been at recent GPs.

"I think we are back on the right lines with a base setting which allows us to work calmly and Michelin is helping us a lot from that point of view," he declared. "Tomorrow we will keep working to refine the set-up of the bike but I'm already very hopeful about Saturday."



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