MotoGP: Rossi vs Stoner 2010 Face-Off

Qatar Race Report

Casey Stoner had won every race at the Losail circuit in Doha, Qatar, since he joined the Ducati MotoGP team in 2007. Stoner looked set to extend that motorcycle racing record as he grabbed the fastest time in final preseason test and pole position for the opening round of the 2010 racing season; all at that same circuit.

Nine-time GP World Champion, Valentino Rossi had other ideas. Rossi ended Stoner`s domination, as the Marlboro rider surprisingly crashed in Qatar as the Fiat Yamaha rider took victory in the opening round.

Stoner looked set to cruise to a repeat of the dominant victory he enjoyed last year but uncharacteristically lost the front end going into the first corner of lap six to crash out and leave Rossi in the lead.

Valentino Rossi (Yamaha M1 #46 – 1st Place) says: "I got a fantastic start but I wasn’t quite fast enough and was suffering on the straight. I lost some time passing Dani 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."

Casey Stoner (Ducati GP10 #27 – DNF) says: "The bike bogged at the start so I didn’t get away well but I felt good and I was able to pass the other guys. Once I got to the front I started to get into my rhythm but I lost the front end a couple of times in long corners so I made the decision to try to ride a bit smoother and not put so much pressure on the front tire with the full tank. Unfortunately that is what led to the crash because looking at the telemetry I didn’t have enough load on the front, so I guess in hindsight I should have stuck to the way I’d been riding all weekend."

Rossi claimed his 104th Grand Prix win of a remarkable career. The Italian is looking for his 10th championship in all classes this season and few would bet against the legendary 31-year-old achieving the feat after his excellent start.

That is not to say that the "Doctor" won’t need some patience and perseverance. Jorge Lorenzo, who finished a close second, is a contender and Respol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso, who clocked a top speed of 201mph, is absolutely riding very strong.

As well, the world saw a stroke of brilliance from Nicky Hayden who missed a podium position by tenths of a second. Crowds cheered around the globe, and especially here in America, as Hayden made a smart move past Dovizioso in the final moments of the racing action. This time it was the Honda with the strong straight away speed that left Hayden and the Ducati "big bang" gasping for air.

Lorenzo – riding with a broken bone in his hand – had been way off the pace in the early stages but timed his charge to the front to perfection as he aggressively barged past Dovizioso on the penultimate lap to take second. He will be on the mend and Stoner will return for next round, as the 2010 MotoGP season continues.