The Marlboro Ducati team of Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden had to fight for their points at the opening race of the season at the Losail circuit after a disappointing qualifying session. Rossi started well, mixing it at the front through the first corner, but as before, his ongoing shoulder issues reared their ugly head and he could not keep pace.
After a tough duel with Yamaha’s Ben Spies, in which Rossi lost out, he finished in 7th place. Speaking after the race, Rossi said, “For sure we're not here to get seventh-place finishes, but there are also positive things from this race, starting with the times, because we were lapping pretty quickly. I had a great start, and that was a nice feeling because the horsepower that this bike has really helps it to launch. Then I made a small error in the first turn, which is a shame because I got stuck behind Barbera for a few laps. Otherwise I would have been closer to Simoncelli and Dovizioso, I wouldn't have beaten them though, because at the end of the race, I'm no longer able to ride like I have to.”
He continued “I'm not referring to the Ducati because even last year, after I hurt my shoulder, I had the same problems in the latter parts of the races, and since the two bikes (the GP11 & M1) are so different, it means that it's really a matter of me not being physically right. It's not just that. We also have to improve the bike because the others have clearly made a step forward since last year. Still, I learned a lot in this test and in this race, and we've already given very specific instructions about what must be done in the long term, in order to improve for the second half of the season for example. In the near term, on the other hand, we'll work on the setup, we'll keep gathering experience, and I'll continue exercising and doing everything I can to recuperate physically.”
Nicky Hayden had a poor start, getting tangled up with Randy De Puniet, who had spilled his bike and was lying in the middle of the track. After falling to the back of the field, the American fought his way through the tail-enders to finish in 9th place.
Speaking after the race, Hayden said, “I got a bad start in the race, and then when De Puniet crashed, I just about ran over him and had to come to a complete stop. I'm happy I didn't run into him, but that was a bad break, because I was dead last with a gap to the next person. I started picking my way through, and once I got into ninth, I got into a decent rhythm and started doing my pace. I was trying to catch Edwards because I thought it would've been nice to have a last-lap race with him, but I didn't quite get to him. It's been a tough weekend for me on and off the track, but everybody around here is working to the maximum. They're the first ones in and the last ones out. I can't be happy with the ride, but I came from dead last, and my fastest lap was my last one. We've got a lot of work to do, but it's just one race, and no one can say we weren't trying.”