Stoner Wins Round 1 in Qatar
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 tonight’s rescheduled race under the floodlights of Losail. With 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. Completing the podium behind the front two, Jorge Lorenzo repeating his rostrum result from his MotoGP debut in the opening race of 2008, in his first race on Bridgestone tyres.
Also on new tyres and with a new factory bike Repsol Honda’s 2009 signing Andrea Dovizioso was fifth, fading slightly in the second half of the race having run in third place for several laps. Chris Vermeulen also made a decent start to the year with his improved GSV-R machine in seventh.Toni Elías may be disappointed not to have done better than ninth, whilst Frenchman Randy de Puniet brought the satellite LCR Honda RC212V home three seconds behind the Spaniard to complete the top ten. A real pity for Capirossi crashing after 16 laps while battling for 5th position. 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.
CASEY STONER, 1st:
“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. That gave me more confidence ahead of the race. We knew this circuit is demanding for fuel consumpionts 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.”