Friday, February 29, 2008

MotoGP: Stoner Stuns Floodlit Field in Test

Riding around the Losail, Qatar circuit on MotoGP bikes in the dark sounds like a ridiculous idea. Surely it should result in the kind of carnage that you'd usually find when Lindsay Lohan drives home after a night on the town. Well, we got our first inkling on the first day of the floodlit test at Losail. Could Stoner stay on the Ducati and put in some quick times?

Well, duh. There's nothing this kid can't do. He really is Mick Doohan in disguise. It might have been a surprise when he suddenly became quick and consistent on the 800cc Ducati, but these days you look at time sheets wondering how close anyone got to the little World Champ. He blitzed his rivals at this Qatar test. At least they had an excuse for not being able to see him disappear into the distance.

Of course, this is really a dry run for the night race at Qatar next week. The excuse is that Qatar is in the Middle East, meaning that a race there will be on at the wrong time of day for viewers everywhere else in the world. Of course, that's rubbish. The real reason is that if you have a normal race there, Stoner will sod off into the wide sandy yonder as soon as the Ducati gets onto the ridiculous kilometre-long straight, and everybody will switch off the telly on lap 3.

By holding the race at night, the race will be a compelling spectacle that everybody will tune in to see. Starting the race at the witching hour doesn't matter to the trackside fans, because the entire population of Qatar consists of 3 nomadic tribesmen, and they could wander into another Arabian country and leave Qatar completely deserted at any time. No, the only people trackside will be a handful of tourists who tear themselves away from their 12-star hotels.

Of course, Casey Stoner will still sod off into the wide black yonder.

Day one of the test saw a few interesting performances. Jorge Lorenzo came closest to Stoner, merely 7 tenths behind. Randy de Puniet continues to impress, as does Andrea Dovizioso. Colin Edwards got hammered by his team-mate as usual, but now the man embarrassing him on an identical bike is James Toseland, who was 5th, half a second faster than 10th placed Edwards. Rossi, Pedrosa and Hayden all posted mediocre times, searching for setups. Marco Melandri was more than 2.2 seconds slower than Stoner. On an identical bike, with identical tyres. Casey has been his team mate for about 10 minutes and destroyed his career already. Ant West was last after flinging his bike into a gravel trap. It's probably for the best if Westy qualifies at the back of the grid next week, because he'll never find his grid spot in the dark otherwise.

No comments: