Yamaha Factory rider Jorge Lorenzo ran a smart race under the Losail lights to win the first battle of the 2012 MotoGP season, making a pass late on defending champion Stoner and powering to the win.
Floodlights filled the desert night above Qatar Sunday as eager MotoGP fans filled the stands of the Losail International Circuit for the first race of the 2012 season. They were not disappointed as former World Champion Jorge Lorenzo maneuvered by defending champ Casey Stoner on Turn 16 with three laps to go and made the pass stick on his way to a victory in the opening race.
“It was a race similar to Jerez 2010. …Never give up, keep on pushing, keep on trying. It’s wonderful. It’s wonderful to win this race,” said Lorenzo post-race.
Repsol Honda’s Stoner led much of the contest, sometimes by almost two seconds, but Lorenzo and Repsol’s second man Dani Pedrosa were able to eventually track him down, whittling his lead after Stoner began sliding and losing grip late in the race. Pedrosa made a gutsy pass with two laps to go, his late braking manuever sending the back tire of his RC213V bouncing all over the tarmac heading into Turn 1. Pedrosa would ultimately hold off Stoner on the way to finishing in second. Meanwhile, Stoner was relegated to a third place finish.
“The team did a fantastic job and we saw things very different after warm-up. Then I managed a perfect start which was a key moment in the race, and I was able to stay with Casey and Jorge. In the end, with four laps to go I tried to take the lead, but Lorenzo was cleverer than me this time and choose a better strategy. I passed him but he overtook me immediately and also Casey, then I was behind Casey for one lap and lost contact with Jorge. Anyway, it’s a good start to the season and we will try to do better in Jerez.,” Pedrosa said in team PR.
It was a fine way to usher in the 1000cc era, with Lorenzo grabbing the holeshot on the factory Yamaha and Pedrosa launching from the third row to almost snag the lead into the first corner. Stoner would settle into third place with Factory Yamaha’s Ben Spies and the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 duo of Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow right behind. Spies would have issues with his M1 Yamaha and dropped further as the race waged on. Stoner would power by Pedrosa on the straight heading into Lap 3 then began to hunt down Lorenzo. By the next lap, the Australian rider used the straight to squeeze
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa shot from 7th to 2nd by the first turn and raced hard on his way to second place. Pedrosa and race-winner Lorenzo were able to track down a streaking Stoner and eventually pass the defending World Champion in the final laps.
by Pedrosa and looked close to running away with it. But Lorenzo and Pedrosa pushed each other hard as they closed the gap, and when arm pump and tire wear began to become an issue for Stoner, Lorenzo and Pedrosa both capitalized.
Crutchlow and Dovi would have their own spirited battle behind the leading trio with Dovizioso slamming the door on the Englishman’s attempts on more than one occasion. Crutchlow finally snuck by his teammate on Lap 17 and held on to finish fourth on the day, equaling his best-ever MotoGP results. Dovzioso had a respectable debut aboard his new Tech 3 mount to finish the day in fifth.
MotoGP rookie Stefan Bradl had an outstanding debut, running in sixth place by himself for much of the race. The reigning Moto2 champ would eventually be tracked down by the trio of Ducati factory rider Nicky Hayden, Alvaro Bautista and Hector Barbera. The scramble turn a took for the worse for Barbera who pushed too hard and ran off course in the final lap not long after passing Bradl for sixth. But it was veteran Hayden who would bring the Desmosedici GP12 home in sixth place, edging out Bautista by 0.033 seconds. Bradl would cross the line eighth, capping off an impressive rookie debut. Barbera meanwhile, had enough of a gap between him and the next group to safely return to the track and finish ninth.
Ducati’s second factory rider, Valentino Rossi, seemed to struggle early in the race and was never in contention, finishing the race in tenth place. Crossing the line way behind him was Spies, who jumped out quick but soon began dropping back until he barely finished better than the top CRT competitor, BMW/Suter rider Colin Edwards. Not surprisingly, Edwards and MotoGP vet Randy de Puniet (Power Electronics Aspar) were the two highest CRT finishers.
2012 MotoGP Qatar Results:
1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha)
2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) +0.852
3. Casey Stoner (Honda) +2.908
4. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) +17.114
5. Andrea Dovizioso (Yamaha) +17.420
6. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) +28.413
7. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) +28.446
8. Stefan Bradl (Honda) +29.464
9. Hector Barbera (Ducati) +31.383
10. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) +33.665
11. Ben Spies (Yamaha)+56.907
12. Colin Edwards (Suter) +58.088
13. Randy de Puniet (Aspar)
14. Yonny Hernandez (Avintia)
15. Aleix Espargo (Aspar)
16. Ivan Silva (Avintia)
17. Mattia Pasini (Speed Master)
18. James Ellison (Paul Bird Motorsport)