Rossi uses harder slicks to take victory in thrilling season-opener in Qatar
Valentino Rossi won the first race of the season in spectacular style after an intense race-long battle between the top four, all of whom used the harder option Bridgestone slicks. Fiat Yamaha teammate
Jorge Lorenzo finished second, having fought his way past both Repsol Honda's Andrea Dovizioso, who finished third, and a very close fourth-placed Nicky Hayden.
Every rider opted for the harder option front Bridgestone slick, and only Pramac Racing's Mika Kallio opted for the softer option rear, the rest of the field favouring the extra durability of the hard compound.
After taking an early lead, Ducati Team's Casey Stoner fell on the sixth lap of the race, leaving a close fight for the lead between Rossi, Dovizioso and Ducati Team's Hayden, who were split by just 0.2seconds in the latter stages of the race. A total of four riders led during the race: Rossi, Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa, Stoner and Dovizioso. Hayden was running in a podium spot for most of the 22 laps, but lost out to Dovizioso by just 0.011seconds.
Hiroshi Yamada - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department "What an exciting race! Congratulations to Valentino for showing his strength and consistency to take victory here in Qatar, and also to Jorge for his fight back from sixth to second. The racing between Andrea and Nicky was very close indeed, and it is great to see both riders at the front. Congratulations also to Ben for his fifth position and to Hiroshi for finishing tenth in his first MotoGP race. I think this grand prix shows we are in for a very exciting season!"
Tohru Ubukata - Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tyre Development Department
"Firstly, I'd like to congratulate Valentino, Jorge, Andrea and Nicky for a fantastic and exciting start to the season. Even though track conditions were the coolest of the weekend, as expected almost all riders chose the harder option slicks front and rear and I am pleased with their performance. Only Mika chose the softer option rear, but unfortunately he fell on the 3rd lap so we did not get to properly compare the race performance of both specs. The top four riders were all faster than last year's winning race time which shows good consistency, and the top three all recorded their fastest laps in the last third of the race which demonstrates good durability."
Valentino Rossi - Fiat Yamaha Team - Race Winner
"It is a great, great start to the season. I made a fantastic start which is important here, and I was ready for a battle. I thought today would be a fight with Casey, but when I saw him crash I thought it would be more easy. But it was harder than I expected! The bike started to slide too much and I was not able to build enough advantage. When I saw Andrea, I rode every lap at 110 per cent and I was able to go a little faster and gain enough advantage to stay in front. It is especially important to start the 2010 season with a victory."