Results and summary of the MotoGP season opener in Qatar:
As expected, Casey Stoner won the first MotoGP race of the season at Qatar. The Repsol Honda rider fought a tough battle with his teammate Dani Pedrosa, but came out on top in the last few laps of the race.
Pedrosa, on the front row at Qatar, got off the line and into Turn 1 first, as everyone expected, but right on his tail came a surprise, Valentino Rossi rocketing into T1 in 2nd, but obviously too hot to hold it. Running wide, he dropped back down the field, but still managed to cling on to a place somewhere around 6th.
Stoner snatched back 2nd, but even that did not last for long. Jorge Lorenzo was on a mission, and barged past Stoner to take over 2nd, nudging Stoner down to 3rd. Lorenzo wasn't done yet: the factory Yamaha rider soon demoted Pedrosa into 2nd, Stoner pushing him back into 3rd.
On the next lap, Stoner was past Lorenzo and into the lead, and another lap later, he was joined by his teammate Dani Pedrosa. The race was starting to look as expected, with the Repsols getting a gap over the rest of the field, but Lorenzo was still clinging on, at first by the skin of his teeth, and then gradually gaining ground and catching the pair of Hondas back up again.
The Repsol duel went on for the first half of the race, with Lorenzo always lurking in the background, always keeping the Repsols in sight. At half distance, Stoner made the decisive move, then put the hammer down, pulling a steady gap, going on to secure victory uncontested. Pedrosa, starting to lose feeling in his arm, as the problems caused by his crash last year at Motegi resurfaced, dropped back into the clutches of Lorenzo.
Lorenzo could now smell blood, and latched onto the back of Pedrosa, pushing and then passing the Repsol Honda. Pedrosa, his strength now gone from two hard battles had nothing left to give, and was forced to let Lorenzo go, the factory Yamaha rider taking 2nd, while Pedrosa was left to settle for 3rd.
The battle for 4th was often as intense as the battle ahead, with Andrea Dovizioso eventually holding off a storming Marco Simoncelli. In 6th came Ben Spies, a poor start leaving him to fight his way forward again. His main stumbling block was one Valentino Rossi, the Italian putting on a strong display during the race to finish 7th, but unable to do more as the strength in his shoulder failed in the second half of the race.
Colin Edwards had a long and lonely race as the best of the rest, finishing 8th, ahead of Nicky Hayden, who had got caught up in a first-lap crash involving Randy de Puniet and Loris Capirossi, that dropped Hayden to dead last. San Carlo Gresini's Hiroshi Aoyama rounded out the top 10.
|24||Toni ELIAS||HONDA||35'41.564||4 laps|
|65||Loris CAPIROSSI||DUCATI||2'16.031||21 laps|
|14||Randy DE PUNIET||HONDA|