Casey Stoner continued his strong pre-season form to take a clear victory today in Qatar for the Repsol Honda Team, using the harder option front and rear Bridgestone slicks to finish over three seconds ahead of the field and set the fastest lap of the race.
The gap wasn't always so large however, as teammate Dani Pedrosa fought Stoner hard for the first half of the 22 lap race, leading for much of it. Yamaha Factory MotoGP rider and 2010 World Champion Jorge Lorenzo rode a determined race from third on the grid, leading on the first lap, to pass Pedrosa for second as the pair traded position in the closing laps.
Every MotoGP rider used the harder option front and rear slicks for their extra durability over race distance, and consistency was good with Stoner setting the race fastest time on lap 13. Both he and Lorenzo also lapped in the 1:55 bracket until the penultimate lap, and Andrea Dovizioso set his personal best on the final lap.
Further down the order there were more hard-fought battles between Dovizioso and Marco Simoncelli for fourth, and between Ben Spies and Valentino Rossi for sixth at Qatar MotoGP.
Hirohide Hamashima (Director, Bridgestone Motorsport Tire Development) says: "I'd like to congratulate Casey for his victory here, and also Honda for their great pace that resulted in four of their bikes finishing in the top five. They have worked very hard over the winter and this has really showed today.
"Jorge also rode a great and determined race, demonstrating his fighting spirit to secure second place. The pace at the front was good and although we missed a new lap record by just 0.2seconds, tire performance and consistency were good. Casey was able to lap in the 1m 55second bracket until the end and Andrea's fastest time was on the last lap so this shows that both have a very good bike, rider and tyre package.
"Track conditions today were good, and as expected every rider chose the harder option front and rear slicks so we had no problems with graining. Finally, I'd also like to express my personal appreciation to Dorna, IRTA and the teams and riders for showing their support of Japan at this very difficult time with a minute of silence and photo message before the start of the race."
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda Team RC212V) says: "It definitely couldn't be any better, and it's a similar start to when we won the World Championship. Everything with Honda so far has been amazing and we've made leaps and bounds over the pre-season, getting more comfortable on the bike and stronger and stronger.
"This was the same in the race and the bike was fantastic. This morning in warm-up we found the bike didn't want to work too well on a full tank of fuel so in the race Dani was able to open a bit of a gap but we were in no hurry as we knew the bike works well on old tyres and we'd be competitive at the end of the race.
"It got better and better the more laps we did and easier to ride right until the last lap. Everything has gone so well and everyone is working well so I'm looking forward to those next races already."
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Medium, Extra Hard. Rear: Medium, Hard