Five practice sessions will take place on Thursday night including two for the 125 and Moto2 classes and one for MotoGP.
MotoGP will then have its second and third practice sessions run over 45-minutes on Friday night with all qualifying sessions taking place on Saturday evening.
The other notable change is that the 125 and Moto2 field will have their pre-race Warm-Up session on Saturday night, nearly 24 hours before they will race.
The changes are to ensure that the showcase MotoGP race takes places earlier on Sunday night after a series of complaints that conditions are too cold for the tyres.
The race has been moved forward to March 20, further increasing worries about the cold temperatures in the evening and subsequent moisture in the air that led to several crashes during testing at the spectacular Losail International Circuit last year.
Full Qatar MotoGP schedule
Thursday March 17th
18:00-18:40 – 125cc Free Practice 1
18:55-19:40 – Moto2 Free Practice 1
19:55-20:40 – MotoGP Free Practice 1
20:55-21:35 – 125cc Free Practice 2
21:50-22:35 – Moto2 Free Practice 2
Friday March 18th
18:00-18:45 – MotoGP Free Practice 2
19:00-19:40 – 125cc Free Practice 3
19:55-20:40 – Moto2 Free Practice 3
20:55-21:40 – MotoGP Free Practice 3
Saturday March 19th
18:00-18:40 – 125cc Qualifying Practice
18:55-19:40 – Moto2 Qualifying Practice
19:55-20:55 – MotoGP Qualifying Practice 21:20-21:40 – 125cc Warm Up
21:55-22:15 – Moto2 Warm Up
Sunday March 20th
18:00-18:20 – MotoGP Warm Up
19:00 – 125cc Race (18 laps)
20:15 – Moto2 Race (20 laps)
22:00 – MotoGP Race (22 laps)
* All times are local
Source | MCN
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racer Loris Capirossi began his 20th season in Grand Prix racing by recording the sixth fastest time at Losail in Qatar this evening. Capirossi (1’58.468, 17 laps) used a new setting in his Suzuki GSV-R today, which was completely different to the set-up he used at the recent test in Qatar. He found a few useful things in the new configuration and with that – along with the previous data – will try to obtain the best set-up for tomorrow’s qualifying and race day.
Chris Vermeulen (P14, 1’59.348, 17 laps) and Capirossi both used the softer option compound front tyres for the duration of the session in order to save their allocation of the harder tyre for the remainder of the weekend. Vermeulen was pleased with how the session went considering he didn’t use his favoured compound.Today saw the new rules for MotoGP come into force, with only one session on the first day and that has been reduced to 45 minutes, from the hour that was available last year. It was also the first time that that the single control tyre came into operation, with all riders now using Bridgestone rubber and restricted to only eight front tyres (four of each compound) and 12 rears (six of each) for the whole weekend.
This evening track and air temperatures were both in the mid 20ºCs and a strong wind made conditions quite difficult as the fine desert sand blew onto the circuit. Casey Stoner on his factory Ducati set the quickest time.
Rizla Suzuki has one more practice session – also of 45 minutes – early tomorrow evening, followed by a qualifying session of the same duration later on. Sunday’s opening race of the 2009 season will get underway at 23.00hrs local time (20.00hrs GMT).
Loris Capirossi:”For the first practice it was not too bad, but we did struggle a bit with the setting. In the recent test it was not perfect so we tried a new one and this didn’t work as well so we will use some stuff from that and go back to the old one. We have a good idea what we need to modify tomorrow and I am sure we will be stronger. 45 minutes seems a really short time and it is difficult to get a lot of work done, also with the limited amount of tyres – especially on such a dirty track – made it quite tough Overall we are quite pleased and we will have quite an easy way to improve tomorrow!”
Chris Vermeulen:”It was not really the start to the weekend that we wanted. We have a limit on tyres and didn’t really want to use any of the hard front tyres that we will be using for racing. We tried to make the softer one work and we were going not too bad in the beginning of session, but at the end I kept the front tyre in and there was a lot of movement in the front of the bike and struggled to keep corner speed up. It was a bit frustrating that we couldn’t go as fast as we have been round here, but I still have all my hard front tyres left and hopefully the speed will come back when we put that in.
Colin Edwards made a dazzling start to the new MotoGP world championship season in Qatar tonight, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider finishing the opening practice session of 2009 in third position.The American’s best time of 1.57.835 on his last lap was only bettered by Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi as the MotoGP field got accustomed to a new practice format.
With track time reduced from one hour to 45 minutes under new cost-cutting rules implemented for 2009, Edwards quickly worked on fine-tuning the front-end set-up of his Yamaha YZY-M1Despite windy conditions, track temperatures were 10 degrees hotter than at last month’s night test session, and Edwards quickly took advantage to move into second place with 19 minutes remaining. He only slipped down to third with a late attack by reigning world champion Rossi. Edwards though was only 0.396s off the Italian.James Toseland was content with 11th place on the timesheets as the British rider set a best time of 1.58.850. That impressive display left him just 0.079s outside of the top ten. It was a morale-boosting performance from the 28-year-old who occupied a place in the top six until the closing stages to show two big pre-season crashes haven’t dented his confidence going into his second MotoGP season.The start of the new season was a special occasion for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 squad with the number 52 taking on extra significance. As well as being Toseland’s race number, team manager Herve Poncharal celebrated his 52nd birthday today.
Colin Edwards 3rd 1.57.835 – 17 laps“I’m pretty happy to have started close to the front because it is always important to try and hit the ground running. We played around with the front-end mainly because I had a few issues at the last test in Jerez with movement on the front tyre whenever I tried to really push hard. It was a bit like a speed limit in Jerez but the changes we have made feel really good. It’s not a massive change, I’m only talking a millimetre here and there but it has taken away some of that movement and that is crucial for me because I’m such a front-end guy. I’m happy it was the right direction too because you really can’t afford to waste any time with less track time now. You’ve got to back yourself and your team that the changes you make are going to be an improvement, and tonight it worked out. I’ve still got some small issues but I needed to make this change because it is obvious the way I force the handlebars with my arms is different to Valentino and Jorge. I’m happy to have got a good start for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team and give Herve something to smile about on his birthday!”
James Toseland 11th 1.58.850 – 18 laps“I’m pleased with tonight because it has been a tough winter but I was in the ballpark right from the start. I’m eleventh but on the lap times I’m really close to the top six and that is really encouraging. The team did a great job with the base setting because I’ve not had much time on the bike, and their understanding of what I need has been fantastic. I felt comfortable on the bike and that was important for me. My right foot is a little bit sore after the crash in Jerez but it is not proving a big problem on the bike at all. I’m delighted with my recovery because for a while I couldn’t even put any weight on my right foot. But if we had a race tomorrow then I’d be going for a top six position and that’s where I want to be coming off the winter. I used the softer tyres tonight because with the track temperature ten degrees hotter than at the test, I wanted to save the harder tyres because that is what I’ll need for the race. With the shorter session and less tyres, it really comes down to strategy and my team were brilliant. Hopefully now I’ll be able to give Herve a belated birthday present on Sunday.
BMW Motorrad Motorsport riders Troy Corser and Ruben Xaus rode superbly in both the two 18-lap races in Doha today and earned themselves three top ten placings! Troy finished ninth in both races and Ruben took 13th in race one and followed that with a hard-fought for tenth in race two. Today’s tremendous results were all the more spectacular considering that Ruben and Troy had started the races from the fourth row of the grid after a problems in Superpole yesterday.
But almost more special than the top ten finishes was the sight of Troy in fourth place after two laps of race two! The Aussie had blasted off the line superbly from 16th on the grid and stunned everybody by crossing the line in fifth place at the end of lap one. By lap two he had stormed into fourth – a position he held until lap four. Although he ended the race in ninth, his spell in fourth place made up for all the disappointment the past two days and gives Troy, Ruben and the whole team a tremendous boost before the next race in three week’s time.
Troy – Race 1: 9th, Race 2: 9th
After practice and qualifying, we were a bit disappointed about our prospects of any good results from the fourth row of the grid. Overnight we found a solution to our top speed problem and that gave me a slim chance today. In race two, I made one of the best starts of my life, saw a gap and just went for it! It felt great to be up front with the race leaders and although I knew it wouldn’t last, it was great while it happened. At the moment, we are about half a second down on bike and chassis set-up and if we could cut that gap we’d be competitive for sure. It certainly doesn’t help starting from row four and, at Qatar, that probably means you lose seven or so seconds on the first lap and you have to spend the rest of the race playing catch up. To get two top tens today is certainly more than I was expecting before the season started and shows that the bike has real potential. After three weeks or so away, we’ll now be able to return to our workshops, analyse all the info and get the work started for the next round.
Ruben – Race 1: 13th, Race 2: 10th
I’m really happy with the races today and although there’s lots of work to do, I think Troy and I did a great job. I’m very happy with race two, because I ended nearly nine seconds closer to the front then in race one. On my sighting lap for race two, I thought it might be better to go longer on the rear sprocket. I knew that it would be a problem on the start, but it was a risk I wanted to take. And it wasn’t a good start, but I soon got into a good rhythm. My biggest surprise was seeing that Troy was fourth! I was jealous because I wanted to be there! I just kept pushing hard and I managed to catch Troy towards the end of the race. I thought about trying to pass him, but thought ‘Ruben don’t do anything stupid’, so I stayed behind. Then Haslam overtook me two laps from the end and pushed me out of the top ten, but I said ‘No, no, no!’ and made sure I got past him before the finish so that Troy and I could both be in the top ten.
Berti Hauser (BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director)
The most important thing this weekend is that we have learnt a lot, but I must also say that the results today make me more than happy. Troy did an amazing job in both races and the great work between the two riders helped us get both in the top ten in race two. Considering that our team is still learning, I think this is a great achievement this early in the championship and I’d like to thank them and riders for all the hard work here and at Phillip Island. Friday was ‘Black Friday’ for us, but today our results mean we can all leave Qatar happy.