Aussie Casey Stoner had a spirited fight against his teammate to win the season opener in Qatar.
In the highly-anticipated start of the 2011 MotoGP
Championship Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner
nabbed the first victory of the season at Qatar by more than 3.4 seconds. Factory Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo
claimed second in his first defense of the 2010 title, with Stoner’s teammate, Dani Pedrosa, rounding out the podium in third more than five seconds adrift of his teammate.
The event began with Stoner achieving an excellent start from pole position ahead of Pedrosa. Ducati’s Valentino Rossi also had a strong start which saw him go from ninth on the grid all the way up to third. Lorenzo, Stoner and Pedrosa all struggled for the top position while Repsol Honda
’s Andrea Dovizioso and San Carlo Honda’s Marco Simoncelli rounded out the top-five in the opening laps. Lorenzo briefly held the lead before Pedrosa and Stoner cracked through. Frenchman Randy de Puniet had an unfortunate fall in the early part of the contest which forced him to call it quits. Also taking early leave was Pracmac Ducati’s Loris Capirossi. Further back, Rossi was dueling with Yamaha’s Ben Spies for sixth as Pedrosa charged into the lead ahead of Stoner with 17 laps remaining.
Racing action was tight between the two Repsol Honda teammates throughout many of the laps. The duo swapped the lead multiple times while Rossi continued his defense ahead of Spies. With 15 laps to go Simoncelli made his
Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo nabbed second in the order after making his pass stick against Dani Pedrosa.
way around Dovizioso for fourth, but their battle would continue as Dovizioso later took the position back. Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards overtook Ducati’s Hector Barbera for eighth as Spies pushed past Rossi for sixth. Spies’ move failed to stick, however, with the American going wide and allowing Rossi to slip back into his spot.
In the final 10 laps Stoner secured the lead from Pedrosa while Lorenzo began picking up his pace. Stoner flew around Losail’s circuit, recording the fastest lap while putting a gap of more than 1.2 seconds ahead of Pedrosa. In the process Lorenzo approached Pedrosa’s rear wheel and began applying tremendous pressure. With eight laps to go Pedrosa’s defense finally broke and Lorenzo swept by for second. Despite his mistakes Spies kept at Rossi for sixth, eventually getting by with seven laps remaining in the race. Ducati’s Nicky Hayden struggled throughout most of the race, but with just five laps to go the Kentucky Kid managed to move up to ninth ahead of Honda’s Hiroshi Aoyama.
In the last five laps Stoner checked out ahead of the competition with more than a three-second lead. Tension was high in the battle for second though as Pedrosa retook the position ahead of Lorenzo. Also refusing to give in was Dovizioso, who shot ahead of Simoncelli back into fourth. With just three laps remaining Lorenzo pulled a great pass ahead of Pedrosa, this time creating distance and making his move stick.
Stoner eventually sealed the first win of the new season after a great performance against his fellow teammate. Lorenzo notched a solid ride for second and appeared pleased with the result after successfully maneuvering ahead of Pedrosa, who earned third in the order. More than 5.9 seconds off the pace of Stoner was Dovizioso, who managed fourth across the line after outriding Simoncelli in the final laps. Further back in the order Spies achieved sixth after his pass on Rossi, with the Italian being followed by Edwards in eighth. Cal Crutchlow’s first Grand Prix saw him finish just outside the top-10 in 11th after a last second pass ahead of Ducati’s Karel Abraham. It was an unfortunate start for LCR Honda’s Toni Elias, who crashed out toward the end of the race to record a DNF in his first premier class race.
2011 MotoGP Qatar Results:
1. Casey Stoner (Honda)
2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha)
3. Dani Pedrosa (Honda)
Dani Pedrosa earned third in Qatar after losing battles with Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo.
4. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda)
5. Marco Simoncelli (Honda)
6. Ben Spies (Yamaha)
7. Valentino Rossi (Ducati)
8. Colin Edwards (Yamaha)
9. Nicky Hayden (Ducati)
10. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda)
11. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha)
12. Hector Barbera (Ducati)
13. Karel Abraham (Ducati)
DNF Toni Elias (Honda)
DNF Loris Capirossi (Ducati)
DNF Randy de Puniet (Ducati)
2011 MotoGP Championship Points:
1. Casey Stoner, 25
2. Jorge Lorenzo, 20
3. Dani Pedrosa, 16
4. Andrea Dovizioso, 13
5. Marco Simoncelli, 11
6. Ben Spies, 10
7. Valentino Rossi, 9
8. Colin Edwards, 8
9. Nicky Hayden, 7
10. Hiroshi Aoyama, 6