“I'm so pleased with this victory”
Casey Stoner took a dominant victory in the opening round of 2009 MotoGP World Championship and his third in consecutive years at the Grand Prix Qatar in yesterday night's rescheduled race under the floodlights of Losail.
torrential rain forcing the postponement of the original contest last night, the riders returned to the track today for a 20-minute warm-up at 1830h ahead of a 2100h start.
The nervous wait didn't seem to affect the Australian, who launched from pole position to lead the entire distance, maintaining his searing pace in the second half of the race to keep the chasing Valentino Rossi at bay.
"I'm so pleased with this victory because it is fruit of the hard work done by everybody at Ducati over the winter. It has been difficult to work in such short sessions here this weekend and going into the race last night we took a gamble with a setting change that we weren't sure about, but we got the opportunity to try it in warm-up and it felt great, so thank you to the team that worked really hard during the whole week-end”, he said. “That gave me more confidence ahead of the race. We knew this circuit is demanding for fuel consumptions and I had to adapt my style a little to keep the pace up and hold the advantage over Valentino but finally we didn't have problems at all with it. My wrist felt 100% tonight but I still need to work on my overall fitness after the down time over the winter and I'm sure we can keep progressing."
Nicky Hayden produced an equally impressive display and whilst the result was not as spectacular as Stoner's his determination certainly was.
The American suffered a heavy crash during Saturday's qualifying session that left him nursing an extremely sore back and three stitches in his chest but he valiantly battled through to take twelfth place, almost snatching eleventh from Dani Pedrosa on the line with an exciting late charge.
“It's been a tough weekend and we've had a lot of issues – obviously a 130mph high-side doesn't help things but nothing really went smooth. In the beginning of the race I was quite slow, I didn't get a great start but actually as the fuel load changed and I got a better feeling I got faster and faster and the last five or six laps were my fastest of the whole weekend”, he explained. “It would have been nice to nick Dani at the end there but I think the team have showed that even though a lot of stuff has gone against us this weekend we're not going to give up. Hopefully the bad stuff is behind us now and Casey has shown the potential of the bike, so crazy as it sounds I'm leaving here in a really positive mood and looking forward to Motegi.”