The Ducati Marlboro Team today started the last of the non-European preseason test sessions with the first of three days at the Losail circuit in Qatar. This test holds extra significance given that the same circuit will play host to the opening round of the 2007 MotoGP World Championship on March 10th, with similarly fresh spring conditions expected. Another interesting factor is that all of the MotoGP teams are together on track again after going their separate ways in recent weeks, with Ducati, Honda and Suzuki having headed down to Australia whilst Yamaha and Kawasaki opted for a second test in Malaysia.

Casey Stoner got off to an excellent start at a circuit where he has already shown a penchant for speed, the Australian youngster having set pole position here in 2006 with a lap of 1’55.683. Today he was only a second off that pace on race tyres as he circulated inside the track’s race lap record, held by Valentino Rossi (1’57.305).

Just a few tenths behind Stoner was his team-mate Loris Capirossi, who suffered an innocuous crash in turn one just moments before the end of the session. However, like Casey, Loris also felt comfortable with the bike from the opening laps – another promising sign of the Desmosedici GP7′s adaptability to a variety of different circuits, as indicated in earlier tests.

Casey Stoner (56 laps – best time: 1’56.964)

“It has been a really positive day. I didn’t know what to expect from this test because even though we went so fast at Phillip Island I thought that was mainly because it is a track that is really suited to the Ducati. In fact, the setting worked well here from the first few laps and with just a few small set-up changes the bike is working really well. We’ve also done a good job with the tyres, which I am very satisfied about. I did have a little bit of chatter today but nothing to worry about too much. In the last three tests at Sepang, Phillip Island and now here we have taken big steps forward and now I’m able to get a good feeling with the Ducati straight away. I’ve got to say thanks to the team because they’re doing a great job!”

Loris Capirossi (54 laps – best time: 1’57.360)
“I am quite satisfied with how we have worked today. We’ve tried a lot of tyres and picked out a couple of things that work well although at the moment there is still a little room for improvement to reduce the rear chatter. Anyway, the bike has adapted well to this circuit and that is positive. I crashed in turn 1 just a few minutes from the end but luckily I wasn’t hurt. These things happen when you push to the limit and the important thing is not to injure yourself.”
Losail Circuit Record: Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 2006, 1’57.305
Losail Pole Record: Casey Stoner (Honda) 2006, 1’55.683

Temperature: Ambient 21  – Track 33

Unofficial lap times, Tuesday 13th February:

Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1’56.774
Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1′ 56.891
Casey Stoner (Ducati) 1’56.964
Kenny Roberts (KR – Honda) 1’57.064
Nicky Hayden (Honda) 1’57.070
John Hopkins (Suzuki) 1’57.350
Loris Capirossi (Ducati) 1’57.360
Carlos Checa (Honda) 1’57.370
Alex Barros (Ducati) 1’57.69
Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1’57.700
Randy De Puniet (Kawasaki) 1’57.730
Marco Melandri (Honda) 1’57.760
Shinya Nakano (Honda) 1’57.850
Alex Hoffman (Ducati) 1’57.860
Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) 1’57.900
Makoto Tamada (Yamaha) 1’58.408
Olivier Jaques (Kawasaki) 1’58.740
Toni Elias (Honda) 1’59.400
Sylvain Guintoli (Yamaha) 1’59.700
Shinichi Ito (Ducati) 1’59.966
Andrew Pitt (Ilmor) 2’01.667
Jeremy McWilliams (Ilmor) 2’10.341

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