Repsol Honda‘s Casey Stoner has won the opening grand prix of the season, the CommercialBank Grand Prix of Qatar after a dominating ride ahead of Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo and teammate Dani Pedrosa. The Australian looked a sure fire hit for a lights to flag win but he didn’t have it all his own way from the start.

Dani Pedrosa made a trademark, rocket like start from 2nd on the grid to take the lead into the first corner, but mixing it up in the pack, Ducati’s Valentino Rossi popped up to the middle of the pack which upset the order, mostly Yamaha’s Ben Spies who fell down the order to avoid a shunt.

By the end of lap one, Lorenzo had squeezed his way the front of the pack, followed by the three Repsol Hondas of Stoner, Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso and set about trying to build a lead. As Stoner and Pedrosa chased, the trio started to lose the pack, and eventually the Honda’s passed the Yamaha.

What followed was a close fought battle between Stoner and Pedrosa that saw the two swap positions thoughout the middle part of the race, but it wasn’t long before Stoner started to pull out a gap as Pedrosa fell into the clutches of Lorenzo back in third. Lorenzo put in a champions ride to claim second on a bike that isn’t as competitive as the Honda. Pedrosa eventually finished third, and it later transpired that the Spaniard suffered a case of arm cramp which left him unable to keep the pace.

Aside from the dueling three, there were many battles going on throughout the pack. Back in 4th, Dovizioso was fighting off pressure from San Carlo Honda Gresini‘s Marco Simoncelli. Yet, try as he might Simonchelli eventually finished 5th.

Valentino Rossi had a Ducati debut to be proud of. After starting like a rocket, the Italian fell back as low as 9th but managed to claw his way back up the pack. As he sat comfortably in 6th, Yamaha’s Ben Spies was also making a comeback up the field. As the American caught up to Rossi, the two set about a tussle that almost saw Rossi almost lose it, only to save it in spectacular style, with his leg up in the air and off the peg. Spies eventually claimed 6th on his Yamaha debut, beating Rossi who is still off the pace due to his shoulder.

Colin Edwards claimed 8th on his Monster Yamaha Tech3 ahead of the second Ducati of Nicky Hayden. The American rider will be equally frustrated at his lack of pace, considering he has had 2 years of experience on the Ducati, where as this was Rossi’s first race. The top 10 was rounded out by the second San Carlo Honda Gresini of Hiroshi Aoyama.

Brit Cal Cructhlow had an impressive debut Moto Grand Prix finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th on the second Monster Yamaha Tech3 after a last lap overtake on, at one stage the highest placed Ducati, Hector Barbera on the Mapfre Aspar machine in 12th. Another debutant, Karel Abraham was the last of the finishers in 13th on the Cardion AB Motoracing Ducati.

Toni Elias had a MotoGP return to forget. After spending most of the race at the back of the pack, the Moto2 champion lost it in strange fashion whilst under no pressure whatsoever and ended up in a highspeed tumble into the gravel. The Pramac Ducati duo of Randy De Puniet and Loris Capirossi had a race that the team would like to forget in a hurry.

On the opening lap, De Puniet had a slow speed highside in the middle of the pack, and as his bike flicked up off the tarmac, part of it hit the front of Capirossi’s bike and clipped the Italians hand. One lap later Capirossi pulled into the pits.

RIDERS CHAMPIONSHIP

  1. Casey Stoner – 25 points
  2. Jorge Lorenzo – 20
  3. Dani Pedrosa – 16
  4. Andrea Dovizioso – 13
  5. Marco Simonchelli – 11
  6. Ben Spies – 10
  7. Valentino Rossi – 9
  8. Colin Edwards – 8
  9. Nicky Hayden – 7
  10. Hiroshi Aoyama – 6
  11. Cal Crutchlow – 5
  12. Hector Barbera – 4
  13. Karel Abraham – 3
  14. Toni Elias – 0
  15. Loris Capirossi – 0
  16. Randy De Puniet – 0
  17. Álvaro Bautista – 0