The first night of the first ever MotoGP night test, held at the Losail circuit in Qatar, has been dominated by world champion Casey Stoner.

Just 167 days after the project's approval, the world's largest permanent sports lighting system - covering an area akin to 70 FIFA football pitches - was officially switched on in a ceremony ahead of the test, which finished at 1am local time.

The quest to eliminate as much shadowing as possible has resulted in the provision of enough light for a hypothetical street running from Qatar's capital, Doha, to Moscow in Russia - while the power required amounts to some 5.4 million watts, enough to provide electricity simultaneously to some 3,000 houses.

None of which was probably on Stoner's mind as the young Australian burst three-seconds clear of the field just 45-minutes into the test and, after the full seven hours of day one track time, the Ducati star - making a rare appearance in full Marlboro livery - was still standing 0.689secs in front.

"The first impression is like playing on the videogame 'Need for Speed'!" said Casey. "It's definitely a lot different to what we're used to. It's not better or worse, just different. The most interesting thing is that with lower visibility, at least with regard to the imperfections on the track, you have to have more confidence than your instinct tells you to have."

Stoner's best lap, of 1min 55.330secs, was 1.2secs inside his own fastest race lap at the 2007 grand prix - set en route to his debut MotoGP victory - and just 0.3secs from Valentino Rossi's pole position time.

Fiat Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo was the rider closest to Stoner, the reigning 250cc world champion headlining an impressive opening day for the four premier-class rookies - who were all inside the top six.

Randy de Puniet continued his excellent pre-season form with third for LCR Honda, just 0.043secs behind Lorenzo, with rookies Andrea Dovizioso (+0.791secs Stoner) James Toseland (+0.921secs) and Alex de Angelis (+1.241secs) in close pursuit.

The top six thus consisted of two Bridgestone and four Michelin riders, although the top ten was a more even six-four split in favour of the French brand.

John Hopkins took an encouraging seventh for Kawasaki, just ahead of another injured rider, Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa, who used a softer tyre at the end of the session to cut his lap time.

Seven times world champion Valentino Rossi was ninth - and complaining about the cold temperatures - with former factory team-mate Colin Edwards tenth (and 1.4secs behind Stoner) on the second Tech 3 M1.

2006 world champion Nicky Hayden was just twelfth fastest, while Rizla Suzuki riders Chris Vermeulen and Loris Capirossi again struggled - the pair being left 14th and 15th on day one, just in front of Stoner's beleaguered team-mate Marco Melandri.

Anthony West was the session's only crasher, the Kawasaki rider escaping from a big accident early on, whilst the majority of the feedback from the teams and riders with regard to track visibility and riding conditions was highly positive.

The two-night Qatar test concludes in the early hours of Saturday morning, after which the MotoGP riders will be in action for real during the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix from March 7-9 - MotoGP's first ever night race.