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Nicky Hayden third, Valentino Rossi tenth on day one in Qatar

The 2012 MotoGP World Championship kicked off this evening at Qatar’s Losail International Circuit, where the first free-practice session of the new season took place under the lights.

On a dirty track surface, Ducati Team riders Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi spent the single 45 minute session working on finding a race setup, as well as continuing to familiarize themselves with the still-new Desmosedici GP12. Toward the end, the American managed to post the third-fastest time of the session, while Rossi, who used just a single hard tyre, finished the night tenth-quickest.

Tomorrow evening will find the MotoGP riders participating in two more free practice sessions, with qualifying to take place on Saturday night and the first race of the year on Sunday evening.

Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 3rd (1:56.924)
“The first session went well. This track is a lot different than what we experienced in Jerez, more open and a lot wider. It was quite dirty and not very grippy, which helped us a bit. We started off on the hard tyre and then switched to the soft for the last exit, and I was able to do a nice lap. In general we were pretty fast and consistent, and I’ve certainly had worse sessions here, but we’ll just stay calm, keep trying to improve and try to get a good grid spot on Saturday night. It’s just one session, and there’s a long way to go. Sunday night is what counts, and it would be nice to get this team a result it deserves.”

Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 10th (1:57.914)
“It’s the first practice and I used the hard tyre the whole session, trying to do a lot of laps in order to understand it. The new tyre is much better for warming up, so good for safety, but it started to slide a lot after some laps and made some of the understeer worse. We have to work with the setting and also the electronics. The soft will be important for Saturday, but the hard will be the tyre for the race. Tomorrow we’ll try to do better.”

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