STONER AHEAD OF THE PACK IN FIRST 'QUALIFYING' SESSION OF 20082008-02-18 06:11
The weather matched the forecasts for the second day of the Official MotoGP Test at Jerez de la Frontera, with overnight rain continuing this morning to dictate the track conditions. The downfall ceased shortly before the afternoon's 40-minute 'qualifying' practice but the track remained damp and slippery throughout.
Marco Melandri was one of the victims of the tricky conditions and he lost control of his GP8, escaping injury in the ensuing crash - his first with the Ducati - and returning to the track in time to join the battle for lap times.
Casey Stoner quickly took control of matters and on just his fifth lap he set the benchmark at 1'49.263, a lap that none of his rivals were able to match. In fact, five of Stoner's total nine laps during the session were faster than the second-placed rider, with conditions remaining difficult even as the track dried in the cool temperatures.
Melandri was hot on the heels of his team-mate in the opening part of the session but finally dropped down to tenth place. Cold temperatures and increasingly high winds meant the session was ended early at 1600h.
Casey Stoner (Ducati Marlboro Team), best time: 1'49.263 (9 laps in qualifying; 28 in free practice)
"This is fantastic. Last year we did an amazing job in all the qualifying sessions during the season and I was able to take a car at the end of it so to start out 2008 in the same way is great. We found quite a good wet setting this morning so we decided to run a tyre that was a little harder than some of the other guys because there was not so much water on the track. Obviously with a harder tyre the grip is not the same but durability is better and with the track drying this really helped. We were able to use the same tyre for the whole session although I actually think I could have gone even faster if we'd have put a new one on at the end. I'm really happy with the way the bike was working in the dry at the end of yesterday and in the wet today. Being more competitive in testing means we can be even more competitive at the races but nothing is ever perfect and there is always room for improvement. We're just trying to improve the bike's performance at circuits where we had problems last season and from that perspective things are going very well."
Marco Melandri (Ducati Marlboro Team), best time: 1'52.238 (15 laps in qualifying; 20 in free practice)
"Today has been the classic 'wasted' day as far as the test is concerned, because there's not a lot you can do in these conditions. This morning we tried out the wet setting and we were making improvements when I suffered my first crash with the Ducati, which was quite heavy but nothing too serious. In the first part of the qualifying session I was able to go quite fast straight away but after a quick pit-stop I wasn't able to improve my time by much - just over a tenth on the last lap - which was partly due to the fact that in the crash I'd destroyed one of the tyres that worked well in these conditions and I didn't have a new one to put on. With the weather getting worse we decided to finish for the day and hope for better weather so that we can continue our work tomorrow."
Jerez Circuit info
Circuit Record: Valentino Rossi (Yamaha - 2005) 1'49.263
Best pole: Loris Capirossi (Ducati - 2006) 1'39.064
Lap times 17 February 2008
1. Stoner (Ducati) 1.49.263
2. Rossi (Yamaha) 1.50.580
3. Hayden (Honda) 1.50.785
4. West (Kawasaki) 1.50.799
5. Dovizioso (Honda) 1.51.312
6. Nakano (Honda) 1.51.594
7. Capirossi (Suzuki) 1.51.894
8. De Puniet (Honda) 1.51.979
9. Guintoli (Ducati) 1.52.058
10. Melandri (Ducati) 1.52.238
11. De Angelis (Honda) 1.52.463
12. Toseland (Yamaha) 1.52.755
13. Vermeulen (Suzuki) 1.52.779
14. Edwards (Yamaha) 1.52.826
15. Jacque (KawasakI) 1.53.283
16. Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1.53.292
17. Guareschi (Ducati) 1.54.694
18. Canepa (Ducati) 1.57.453
19. Elias (Ducati) 1.57.698
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