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After months of anticipation MotoGP™ riders, teams, fans and spectators around the world will finally have their appetites for action satisfied, when the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar gets the 2012 MotoGP™ World Championship off to a start on Thursday. The first practice sessions of the opening round of the new campaign will bring to an end a lengthy 152-day wait since the final race of the 2011 season in Valencia last November, after an intriguing pre-season which has added to the impatience for the racing to begin.

Two major developments in the premier class which have added to the excitement at the dawn of a new era in MotoGP™ are the introduction of a new 1000cc engine capacity limit, up from the previous 800cc cap,  and the debut of the new Claiming Rule Teams, for whom nine of the 21 riders will compete.

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Posted on April 3rd, 2012 at 7:15 am

A new era begins at the 2012 Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar with the debut of Moto3™, the 250cc four-stroke bikes brought in to replace the former 125cc machines which had been a part of the World Championship since its beginnings in 1949. The pre-season has hinted at an exciting new generation of machinery and an intense level of competition, with 32 riders competing for the honour of being crowned the first-ever Moto3™ World Champion.

A core of riders will be labelled as favourites following their exploits in both the 125s and pre-season, with the likes of Maverick Viñales (Blusens Avintia), Sandro Cortese (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Héctor Faubel (Bankia Aspar) being three such names. All Grand Prix winners, the trio will be accompanied by a number of promising talents in trying to start the season with a strong result in Qatar.

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The MotoGP class was blessed with close to ideal conditions at Jerez on Sunday, where the third and final day of the Official Test took place. With the first practice session of the season’s opening race – the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar – less than two weeks away, all 21 riders who will make up the elite category grid in 2012 were able to pack in a full day’s work at the southern Spanish circuit thanks to clear blue skies and favourable temperatures.

Laying down the gauntlet in the lead-up to the new campaign World Champion Casey Stoner, who on Saturday had ridden just three laps and was one of those most aggrieved by the loss of a day to the poor conditions, was able to make significant progress on Sunday and timed in at 1’38.780. The Australian built up to his fast lap steadily, taking top spot inside the final quarter-of-an-hour of the day and then improving on it with his 61st and final lap. Perhaps of most concern for Stoner’s rivals will have been the consistency of his pace – on his longest run, which was a 10-lap stint prior to his hot lap, his average time was registered at fractionally under 1’39.7.

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Repsol Honda riders Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa finished first and third after three days of testing on the sweltering Sepang Circuit, validating the off-season development of the Honda RC213V that they’ll take into battle when the 2012 MotoGP World Championship begins in Qatar in April. The newest Honda riders, Alvaro Bautista (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC213V) and Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda RC213V) both improved their times on the final day of the test and gathered valuable data for when they return at the end of the month.
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Jorge Lorenzo – 1º – 2.01.657 (30 laps):
“I’m very happy with today. For the first ride on the bike in some time, it’s been very positive. Yamaha has worked very hard over the winter on the M1. I can see very easily where I have to adapt my riding style for the bike and I can see a lot of potential. We have many areas where we can improve so I’m looking forward to beginning again tomorrow. I’m also very happy that my finger is fine and doesn’t affect my riding at all!”

 

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