MotoGP Race Summary
Valentino Rossi got his title defence off to a perfect start by taking the first win of the season in Qatar after polesitter, Casey Stoner, crashed out of the lead just five laps into the race.
Front row qualifiers Stoner, Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo all got good starts, but it was Dani Pedrosa on the Repsol Honda who led the field into the first turn, after a lightning start from the third row of the grid.
Pedrosa and Rossi swapped the lead for two laps, before Stoner pushed his way to the front and started to pull away from the chasing group. The Ducati Marlboro rider posted the fastest lap of the race on his fourth lap, as he tried to open a gap on his pursuers. The Australian was still pushing hard when he made an uncharacteristic mistake, lost the front and crashed out of the lead on the very next lap.
With Stoner gone and a clear track in front of him, Rossi upped the pace and tried to pull away from the field. Nicky Hayden on the second Ducati Marlboro Desmosedici and Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso rode hard to stay in contact with the reigning World Champion and, on lap 16, Dovizioso managed to squeeze his way past the Fiat Yamaha to briefly take the race lead.
Rossi retook the lead on the following lap and held it to the line, ending Stoner’s run of three successive victories in Qatar.
"I got a fantastic start, but I wasn’t quite fast enough and was suffering on the straight," said Rossi. "I lost some time passing Pedrosa and by then Stoner was quite far from me. I thought then that it was going to be hard to catch him! Then he made a mistake and crashed, which was bad luck for him but crucial for us."
Dovizioso was very strong and we had a good battle. I did three or four laps at maximum and managed to stay in front, but it wasn’t easy. I haven’t won at the first race since 2005 and these 25 points at this stage are like gold dust, it’s a fantastic result for the team to make a 1-2 at race one. I ran out of fuel on the slow down lap, but it was very funny to come to Parc Ferme ridinga scooter" added the reigning World Champion and race winner.
A hard charging Jorge Lorenzo, passed both Hayden and Dovizioso on the penultimate lap to make it a Fiat Yamaha 1-2 on the podium. After getting the better of Dovizioso on the final lap Hayden looked all set to secure the final podium place, but the Italian rider managed to slingshot past the American on the run to the line, denying the Ducati rider by the narrowest of margins.
Ben Spies finished an impressive fifth on his debut as a full-time MotoGP rider with the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team. LCR Honda rider, Randy de Puniet, finished in sixth place ahead of Dani Pedrosa, who had faded back through the field after an impressive start to the race.
Colin Edwards took eighth place on the line with Loris Capirossi, in his 300th Grand Prix, just one second further back in ninth. Hiroshi Aoyama rounded out the top ten on his MotoGP debut, finishing ahead of Marco Simoncelli, Hector Barbera and Marco Melandri.
|ITA||Fiat Yamaha Team||Yamaha||165.8||42’50.099|
|SPA||Fiat Yamaha Team||Yamaha||165.7||+1.022|
|ITA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||165.7||+1.865|
|USA||Ducati Marlboro Team||Ducati||165.7||+1.876|
Yamaha Tech 3
|FRA||LCR Honda MotoGP||Honda||165.2||+9.322|
|SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||164.7||+16.508|
|USA||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||164.5||+19.867|
|ITA||Rizla Suzuki MotoGP||Suzuki||164.5||+20.893|
|JPN||Interwetten Honda MotoGP||Honda||164.4||+21.100|
|ITA||San Carlo Honda Gresini||Honda||163.8||+31.638|
|SPA||Paginas Amarillas Aspar||Ducati||163.7||+32.573|
|ITA||San Carlo Honda Gresini||Honda||163.2||+40.780|
|SPA||Rizla Suzuki MotoGP||Suzuki||163.7||1 Lap|
|SPA||Pramac Racing Team||Ducati||162.7||15 Laps|
|AUS||Ducati Marlboro Team||Ducati||164.4||17 Laps|