Casey Stoner proved utterly dominant in the opening MotoGP practice session of the season in Qatar.
This weekend's Losail event is spread over four days so that all the sessions can take place in similarly dark evening conditions, which meant an early start to the official running on Thursday night. Honda convert Stoner hit the front just a few minutes in and was never headed, building a 0.61sec advantage over his teammate Dani Pedrosa.
Behind the runaway Australian, the times were much closer, with just 0.23sec covering from Pedrosa in second to third works Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso in eighth.
Hector Barbera was the fastest Ducati, with a shock one-off late fast lap to grab third on the Aspar team's satellite machine. His run pushed Marco Simoncelli's factory-specification Gresini Honda back to fourth.
Valentino Rossi's weekend got off to a better start than he might have expected. The Italian crept up to fifth, 0.7sec off the pace, by the end of the 45 minutes. He was ahead of both bikes from the team he has just left – Ben Spies and Jorge Lorenzo's Yamahas ending up only sixth and seventh.
Pramac Ducati's Randy de Puniet and Tech 3 Yamaha's Colin Edwards completed the top 10 at the end of an uneventful session.
Pos Rider Team/Bike Time Gap
1. Casey Stoner Honda 1m55.752s
2. Dani Pedrosa Honda 1m56.362s + 0.610s
3. Hector Barbera Aspar Ducati 1m56.421s + 0.669s
4. Marco Simoncelli Gresini Honda 1m56.441s + 0.689s
5. Valentino Rossi Ducati 1m56.479s + 0.727s
6. Ben Spies Yamaha 1m56.493s + 0.741s
7. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1m56.586s + 0.834s
8. Andrea Dovizioso Honda 1m56.592s + 0.840s
9. Randy de Puniet Pramac Ducati 1m56.790s + 1.038s
10. Colin Edwards Tech 3 Yamaha 1m56.879s + 1.127s
11. Nicky Hayden Ducati 1m56.910s + 1.158s
12. Hiroshi Aoyama Gresini Honda 1m56.987s + 1.235s
13. Loris Capirossi Pramac Ducati 1m57.366s + 1.614s
14. Cal Crutchlow Tech 3 Yamaha 1m57.429s + 1.677s
15. Karel Abraham Cardion Ducati 1m57.821s + 2.069s
16. Alvaro Bautista Suzuki 1m58.528s + 2.776s
17. Toni Elias LCR Honda 1m59.087s + 3.335s