rode a brilliant race from his pole position on the way to earning a first ever opening season win for both Bridgestone and Ducati.
Loris Capirossi (65) and Daniel Pedrosa (26) battled for the majority of the race in Jerez with the Ducati pilot pulling out the big win.
The win caps off an amazing start to the season for Capirossi who led the most laps and set the fastest lap of the race on the way to the 26th career Grand Prix victory for the Italian, the fourth aboard the Ducati Desmosedici.
"This is my fourth year with the Ducati Marlboro Team and this is the best start we've had to a season, today's win was just the best," explained Loris Capirossi. "The team has done a great job all winter, especially at the tests we did here two weeks ago. After that we knew we had a good opportunity to win and after practice and qualifying we were quite confident."
The Repsol Honda boys claimed the final two podium positions with rookie Daniel Pedrosa
besting his teammate Nicky Hayden
for second place and nearly becoming the youngest MotoGP
winner in history after a race-long battle with Capirossi.
"To start like this is amazing for me," said a happy Dani Pedrosa. "I want to thank my team because they have worked really hard all this weekend and during the winter. And also a big thank you to Michelin because they gave us really good tires. The race was difficult for me because at the end I was really tired and the tire was spinning and sliding, so I think this result is very good. I didn't get a good start and I had to pass many riders, which took a long time. Loris was already gone, so I had to catch him up and when I did I was already tired. I wasn't really dreaming of the race win because I knew he was saving his tires. He pushed hard at the end of the race and my front tire was sliding a little bit. I was not too confident, so I had to give up because I prefered to finish the race. I'm very happy with the result today."
Things got off to a smashing start in turn one as defending champ Valentino Rossi found himself on the ground. The Camel Yamaha rider would remount and finish in the points in 14th position. The other yellow Yamaha didn't fare much better with Colin Edwards ending up a disappointing 11th overall.
An eighth place finish for Kenny Roberts jr. aboard his father's Honda RC211V-powered Team KR machine seems to be an excellent sign for the American's. He finished just ahead of former teammate John Hopkins and the Rizzla Suzuki.
Rossi wasn't the only contender to be disappointed either. Gibernau starts off the second season in a row with a dramatic result. After qualifying second fastest with his new team the Spaniard was forced to pull into the pits on the second lap with an electronics gremlin."I've no words really, we've all been working so hard over the last few months but we're leaving the first race with no result," explained a dejected Gibernau after the race. "It's a real pity, everything had been going so well. My congratulations to Loris and Bridgestone for a fantastic win, now we look forward to the next race in Qatar in two weeks time."
For American Nicky Hayden though, this is the best start to a season he has had so far. Now, we'll just have to see what he can do with it.
"It wasn't pretty with a few guys dropping out, but nonetheless we'll take the 16 points and the podium," said Hayden. "Last year I crashed out so it's nice to get off and running with some momentum. We were testing here two weeks ago and at that point we didn't have a chance. But we've made a big step, so thanks to the team and Honda and all my guys who worked really hard this winter. And thanks to Repsol and Michelin too because my tires were actually really good today. We'll be back testing here in the morning and we've still got a lot of work to do to improve."
1. Loris Capirossi (Ducati)
2. Daniel Pedrosa (Honda)
3. Nicky Hayden (Honda)
4. Toni Elias (Honda)
5. Marco Melandri (Honda)
6. Casey Stoner (Honda)
7. Shinya Nakano (Kawasaki)
8. Kenny Roberts (Team KR)
9. John Hopkins (Suzuki)
10. Makoto Tamada (Honda)
11. Colin Edwards (Yamaha)
12. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki)
13. Carlos Checa (Yamaha)
14. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha)
15. Alex Hofmann (Ducati)
16. James Ellison (Yamaha)
DNF. Sete Gibernau (Ducati)
DNF. Randy De Puniet (Kawasaki)
DNF. Jose Luis Cardoso (Ducati)