Well, what a season we witnessed. From the start it was clear that we would have a season long fight on our hands. With reigning world champion, FIAT Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi with young pretender Jorge Lorenzo, who narrowly missed out on the title last year, as his team mate and eager to take the crown, with Repsol Hondas Dani Pedrosa in with a sniff, and also Ducatis Casey Stoner always being a dark horse, as the MotoGP circus headed to the bright lights in the desert darkness of Qatar it was anyone’s guess how the season would pan out.
And as the season started under the lights of Qatar, Pedrosa was the man on a mission. Going from 7th to 1st in one corner, he was the first to lay out his stall, with Casey Stoner and Ducati counterpart Nicky Hayden romping off into the distance. However in the next few laps Stoner managed to bin his Desmosedici GP10 and thus elevating Rossi into 1st in the chaos with the Repsol Hondas in pursuit.
Rossi held on to draw first blood, but several performances overshadowed the win. Lorenzo fought through the field brilliantly to grab the 2nd step of the podium, and series newcomer for Monster Yamaha Tech3, ex World Superbike Rider, Ben Spies grabbed an impressive 5th place. The fight for 3rd also drew breath, with Pedrosa, Andrea Dovizioso and Hayden scrapping for the spoils, but it was Dovizioso who held on for the final step on the podium.
After the heat of the desert, the circus moved to Jerez for Round 2 of the championship. And it was advantage Pedrosa, as the young Spaniard took pole position, and then converted it into the race lead by turn 1. Rossi was having none of that was was right behind, shooting from 4th on the grid. At the halfway point, Pedrosa was still leading Rossi by 1.5s with Lorenzo another 2s back. However, after putting in a storming ride, Lorenzo took the checkered flag at the conclusion of a titanic battle with his fellow countryman which saw the 2 touch 2 laps from the end.
Behind the dueling Spaniards, Rossi grabbed 3rd, with the pair of Ducatis coming in 4th and 5th headed by an impressive ride by Hayden matching his Qatar finish. Mika Kallio scored an hugely impressive 7th place, even though the Finn started in last place!
As the grid moved to Le Mans, Lorenzo was the man to beat. But it was Rossi who stole pole with Lorenzo only 0.054s behind in the middle of the first row, which was completed by Pedrosa. In the race, Rossi retained the lead into turn 1 as Lorenzo slipped down to 3rd behind Pedrosa, but it wasn’t long before the Spaniard was back in 2nd and the top 3 pulled away. Behind them, Casey Stoner fell off for the second time in 4 races.
By the start of Lap 8 Lorenzo was all over Rossi, and passed into turn 1. After that, Jorge romped away to a lead of well over 5s at the fall of the flag. Pedrosa had spent most of the race in 3rd, but eventually lost out to team-mate Dovizioso and ran wide to gift yet another 4th place finish to Nicky Hayden.
The 4th race of the season saw the field move to Mugello and Honda’s Dani Pedrosa grab his first podium of the season. This was swiftly followed by a lights to flag victory ahead of championship leader Jorge Lorenzo. Dovizioso managed to claim an impressive home podium in 3rd, after a race long battle with the sole FIAT Yamaha as Valentino Rossi was missing in action after suffering a highside in FP2 which left the reigning world champion with a fractured shin bone.
Round 5 was held at Silverstone and it was Lorenzo who took the advantage in Qualifying and didn’t lose the place in the race. At the start he and Pedrosa shot away, with Randy De Puniet on the LCR Honda, Dovizioso and the pair of Ducati’s in a battle for 3rd.
It was Ben Spies on the Monster Yamaha Tech3 who put in the most impressive performance, after carving through the field to eventually grab 3rd after a titanic battle with De Puniet and Stoner. Dovizioso claimed another impressive performance in 2nd with Lorenzo securing win number 3 of the season. Championship contender Pedrosa finished well down in 8th, putting an early dent in his championship challenge.
Assen was the scene for Round 6 and yet again it was Lorenzo who was the man to beat as he grabbed yet another pole position. Randy De Puniet lined up in 2nd for the 2nd race in a row with Stoner in 3rd. As the 80th Assen race got underway, Lorenzo ran off into the lead, with Spies and Pedrosa making a jump into 3rd and 4th. After a few laps it seemed as though Lorenzo would dominate as he did at Silverstone, but Pedrosa and Stoner managed to pass Spies and hunt down the leader.
As Stoner and Pedrosa were scrapping, this left Lorenzo to shoot away again, and behind the leading trio Spies was passed by Dovizioso leading to another interesting scrap and at the midway point De Puniet joined the fight for 4th. As Lorenzo took the flag by 3s from Pedrosa and Stoner grabbing his first podium of the year in 3rd, it was Spies who put in an impressive performance, with the rookie taking 4th with Dovizioso edging out De Puniet for 6th.
After 6 races Lorenzo was sitting pretty at the top of the table on 140 points with the pair of Repsol Honda’s behind, seeing Pedrosa on 93 points and Dovizioso just behind on 89.