Although reigning MotoGP champion Casey Stoner led the first two practice sessions in advance of the season opening Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar on his Repsol Honda, 2010 titleholder Jorge Lorenzo controlled the final practice on Friday with his 1:55.302 lap on the Yamaha, responding to the Australian's prior dominance.
"I am very happy because we improved a lot on yesterday's lap time," Lorenzo said. "The bike seems much better than last year for us and I think we have even more potential for improvement tomorrow - we still have a few issues to solve, especially corner entry, but we manage to keep a good pace."
After a single, 45-minute practice on Thursday, the flood-lit Losail International Circuit provided the proper evening ambiance for two practice sessions and allowed Tech 3 Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow to take second place, just 0.154 seconds behind Lorenzo with his time of 1:55.456. Stoner ended up third with his 1:55.675-lap, being held up in traffic while trying to pip the two Yamaha riders for top spot.
Andrea Dovizioso took fourth place on the second Tech 3 Yamaha and was the final rider under 1:56 at 1:55.905. Dani Pedrosa, Stoner's teammate was fifth, while the Pramac customer Ducati team's Hector Barbera was sixth ahead of both American Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi, who followed the Spaniard on the time sheets. Stefan Bradl on the LCR Honda and Alvaro Bautista, rider the San Carlo Gresini Honda rounded out the top 10.
"The feeling with my Ducati is getting better lap by lap," Barbera said, "and we had a good strategy, beginning the second free practice session looking for a fast lap time - and we caught it!"
There was a separation of just under 5.3 seconds from first to 21st place and the first CRT bike again belonged to Randy de Puniet on the ART in 13th place, followed by American Colin Edwards' Suter. After riding fourth on Thursday, American Ben Spies crashed 10 minutes into the final practice, completing only eight laps and landing 11th on the time charts; he was the only rider unable to improve from the earlier practice.
With this change of status at the top of the time sheets, expectations are high for an exciting qualifying session on Saturday and an equally fine race on Sunday.