With double podium in Qatar
Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo put in a strong opening showing for the Fiat Yamaha Team tonight, finishing second and third under the Qatar floodlights after the race was delayed 24 hours following last night's heavy rain.
Tech 3 Yamaha
rider Colin Edwards brought his M1 home in fourth, making it three Yamaha's in the top four, with Casey Stoner taking the race win.
Starting from second on the grid, Rossi lost some ground at the start and was passed by Loris Capirossi and then Lorenzo. He had passed his team-mate back by the end of the first lap and on lap three he despatched Capirossi, but by that time Stoner was already some three seconds clear.
The world champion set off in pursuit and after ten laps had closed the gap to less than two seconds, but the wear and tear from pushing so hard on his Bridgestone tyres was beginning to tell and he wisely chose to settle for the safe option and twenty points, crossing the line 7.771 seconds adrift.
“So I think it's definitely more fun to race on a Monday than test, like last year! Today the conditions of the track were quite different to before and this evening in warm-up we encountered a couple of small problems related to tyres, so our strategy had to change slightly tonight. It's a pity because I think last night we could have put up more of a fight, but anyway this is a good result to start the season, much better than last year”, he said. “I knew I needed a good start in order to go with Stoner but unfortunately I didn't get one and I lost some time fighting with Lorenzo and Capirossi and by then Stoner had already gone! The middle part of the race was great fun and I made six or seven good laps to come much closer, but I knew I wouldn't be able to continue in that rhythm, it was too risky for the tyres and I decided it was more important to take the 20 points. Casey was very strong today but he is always fast here and I believe that our potential is very good; I think that we can be back fighting again in Motegi.
I am so glad we could race today after yesterday and I am satisfied to be leaving here having made a good start to the season – it is long!”
His team-mate Lorenzo, who finished second here last year in what was his first MotoGP race, rode a spirited race from the third grid spot. He slipped down to sixth at one point but found his rhythm and fought back to pass Edwards, Capirossi and eventually Dovizioso to take the final podium spot, a further eight seconds behind Rossi.
“I am so happy to be on the podium tonight, I really enjoyed some parts of the race when I made some good overtakes and felt confident enough to take some risks. The grip of the track was better tonight but my rear tyre was moving from the start, so this is something we need to address and improve”, he said. “Apart from the result and the points it is clear we have some work to do because our pace tonight was too far off Rossi and especially Stoner. The gap is too big! After yesterday's crazy weather I am really happy we could race, it was very important for everyone and now we have got the season underway with a good result, my aim is to be much closer to the leaders in Motegi.”
Round two of the MotoGP World Championship takes place at Motegi in Japan in just under two weeks time.