The Fiat Yamaha team once again dominated the timesheets at today's third free practice session in Qatar. The only change in the standings at the top was Colin Edwards leapfrogging over his team mate Valentino Rossi to take the fastest time again. Casey Stoner and John Hopkins took 3rd and 4th place once again.
Behind the top 4, there were bigger changes. Carlos Checa made the least progress on the LCR Honda, dropping from 5th down to 10th spot. As a result, Dani Pedrosa, Marco Melandri and Loris Capirossi all moved up a place. Nicky Hayden must have found a few solutions to his first-day problems, as he vaulted from a lowly 15th all the way up to 8th. You can be sure that 8th position is not where the Kentucky Kid would want to be, but such a big improvement is promising. More important than his position is the three quarters of a second he found on Valentino Rossi.
Behind Hayden, Rizla Suzuki's Chris Vermeulen also showed a positive improvement, jumping from 12th to 9th ahead of Carlos Checa. The ranking further down the order changed less, with Makoto Tamada finally managing to get past the Ilmors.
Looking at the complete lap times, it is clear that Edwards and Rossi have race pace, having put in reasonable runs. But most impressive is Casey Stoner. His second run of the session lasted for 18 laps, during which he consistently ran laps in the 1'56 range. On the strength of this performance, Casey Stoner could well turn out to be the man to beat come Saturday.
|13||14||Randy DE PUNIET||KAWASAKI||1'57.316|
|15||10||Kenny ROBERTS JR||KR212V||1'57.600|
|20||99||Jeremy McWILLIAMS||ILMOR GP||1'59.266|
|21||88||Andrew PITT||ILMOR GP||2'00.045|
|Circuit Record Lap:||Valentino ROSSI||1'57.305||2006|
|Circuit Best Lap:||Casey STONER||1'55.683||2006|