FIAT YAMAHA OPEN ACCOUNT WITH THRILLING ONE-TWO IN QATAR
The 2010 MotoGP season got off to a flying start under the floodlights tonight with a gripping Qatar Grand Prix and a perfect opening result for the Fiat Yamaha Team. The indomitable Valentino Rossi took his 104th career
victory, his first in the opening round since 2005, whilst Jorge Lorenzo rode a clever race to finish a strong second.
The World Champion got a brilliant start from second on the grid and led after the first lap but both Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner were faster on the straight and he was soon relegated to third. On lap five he battled back to pass the Spaniard but Stoner was two seconds in front by then and the Italian looked to be facing a hard task to catch him. On the next lap however Stoner slid out of the race, leaving Rossi in the lead pursued by Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso. His work was far from over however as Dovizioso proved impossible to shake off and mounted a challenge on the straight on lap 16, momentarily getting his nose in front before his more experienced compatriot passed him back on the brakes into turn one. A couple of quick laps from Rossi gave him some breathing space and he was eventually able to pull clear, leaving Dovizioso and Hayden to dice with Lorenzo while he charged over the line to finish 1.022 seconds clear. His win today makes him only the third rider in history to have scored points in 200 Grands Prix.
Lorenzo meanwhile had slipped several places at the start, dropping back to sixth before he started to find his rhythm on lap six. The 22-year-old had to contend with some pain in his recovering hand as well as a lap of grip in the rear but he played the waiting game until his fuel load lessened and he was able to push a bit harder. He then put up a gutsy display to gradually reel in the leaders and come within striking distance with two laps to go. A masterful overtaking display on the penultimate lap despatched first Hayden and then Dovizioso and he crossed the line behind his team-mate to the delight of the Yamaha garage.
The team now has a short break before heading in high spirits to Yamaha's home race in Japan, with the second round of the MotoGP World Championship coming at Motegi in two week's time.
Valentino Rossi - Position: 1st - Time: 42'50.099
"I got a fantastic start but I wasn't quite fast enough and was suffering on the straight. I lost some time passing 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. After that I expected it would be easier but in fact it was very hard to stay in front of Dovizioso, who was very strong. We had a good battle and then I did three or four laps at the maximum and was able to stay in front, but it wasn't easy! I haven't won at the first race since 2005 and these 25 points at this stage are like gold dust, it's a fantastic result for the team to make a one-two at race one. It's especially good to win here because it doesn't suit our bike, we worked very cleverly throughout the practices and this is the reward, so thanks to all my guys. We definitely have some work to do but this is a good base to start from. I ran out of fuel on the slow down lap, I think I used more than expected early on because I was sliding quite a lot, but it was very funny to come to Parc Ferme riding a scooter!"
Jorge Lorenzo - Position: 2nd - Time: +1.022
"Today I had to disconnect my brain and just ride with my heart, and I am so happy about this second place. My hand was a bit sore but the bigger problem was the rear sliding, and early on with a full fuel tank I found it quite hard. My plan was to take it quietly and not risk too much, but after a while the adrenalin built up and I couldn't do that, I had to ride at the maximum! Once I had less fuel it was easier and I started to get closer, but I was on the limit physically and with the bike, so it was quite risky! I made some good overtakes at the end and this is a fantastic result for our team, with Valentino winning as well. Now we go to Motegi, where I won last year, and I will be in better physical condition by then and ready to be even stronger."
Davide Brivo - Team Manager
"It's been a very positive weekend for us not only because we won, but because we've worked through our issues very well and been able to confirm that our bike is good. This isn't a good track for us and we know we're suffering a bit in terms of top speed, this is something we need to work on, but to win here shows that we've got a good overall package. Now we will work to lessen the gap to our rivals. It's been a great night for Yamaha; three bikes in the top five and a brilliant start to the season. Now we got to Yamaha's home race in Japan and we're looking forward to maintaining our lead."
Wilco Zeelenburg - Team Manager
"This is a very good start to the season and Jorge rode a very clever race. He kept his patience when the bike was heavy, realised it wasn't the right time to push and little-by-little he was able to improve his pace and close the gap. With a couple of laps to go he saw his advantage and was able to grab second position. To finish just one second behind Valentino after his interrupted pre-season is very impressive and a great result for our team."