In historic night race
Michelin riders packed the front-running positions in Sunday night's historic Qatar night race, with three Michelin men in the top four and all Michelin riders in the top ten at the end of a record-breaking race.
The 22-lap event smashed the
Qatar race record by almost half a minute with the top seven riders all inside last year's record pace, thanks in part to the cool night-time conditions which help engines run stronger and tyres run cooler.
Jorge Lorenzo (Fiat Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) was arguably the star of the race, the rookie starting from pole position, battling for the lead with World Champion Casey Stoner (Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici) and eventually finishing his first MotoGP race in a superb second place. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V-Michelin) also defied the odds to finish a heroic third, battling the pain from his recently broken right hand.
Lorenzo wasn't the only MotoGP debutant to shine in the floodlit event, his former 250 rival Andrea Dovizioso (JiR Team Scot Honda RC212V-Michelin) dazzled in the final stages, his Michelins giving him the grip he needed to beat Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha Team YZR-M1) in a thrilling last-lap duel. And reigning World Superbike champion James Toseland (Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1-Michelin) also had a storming start to his MotoGP career, finishing less than a second behind Rossi, just ahead of his team-mate Colin Edwards (Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1-Michelin).
“We didn't win tonight but we are quite happy with the result because we had so many riders fighting up front, proving the performance of our tyres”, said Jean-Philippe Weber, Michelin's director of motorcycle racing. “Once again Casey was really fast but it was an exciting race with some interesting battles between the top riders. Lorenzo has been fast all weekend, it was great to see him take pole position yesterday, and today he was able to fight for the win for much of the race. Dani also rode brilliantly considering his injury.”
“We are really happy with all our rookies who give us great hope for the future. Andrea rode a fantastic race and we could see that the potential of his tyres was still very high at the end of the race when he was able to overtake Valentino on the last lap. Toseland was also amazing and Edwards too.
Their bikes weren't as fast as the other Yamahas but they were able to battle with other factory machines, same as Dovizioso on his non-factory Honda.”
After becoming the first MotoGP first-timer in a decade to start from pole, Lorenzo was delighted with his first MotoGP race. “I enjoyed it a lot, it was a great start to my career in this class!”, said the Spaniard. “Yamaha are working hard, the bike gets more and more competitive, and Michelin are also working very hard, always giving me more grip and more feel.”