Casey Stoner fights to the front

Honda rider Casey Stoner opened up MotoGP-season with fighting victory in Qatar.

For the first time since 2003 a Honda rider won the opening round of the MotoGP season. Casey Stoner gave Honda the best possible start to the season with a win from pole position on Sunday evening’s race in Qatar. But it wasn’t all plain sailing for the Australian however as he dropped from pole to third at the start and had to fight his way back into the lead.

After two laps Stoner was back in the lead followed by team mate Dani Pedrosa as they looked set to deliver on the Honda steamroller that seemed a given after practice and qualifying. Stoner and Pedrosa fought for the lead until Stoner finally could take command after several laps of battle between the two Honda riders.

This gave Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo a chance to put himself in the fight and the reigning world champion fought with Dani Pedrosa for several laps, swapping places four times in four laps before Lorenzo could secure second place and thus stop Honda from taking a one-two.

Behind the top three it was Honda again with the third works Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso fighting with fellow Honda rider Marco Simoncelli over fourth place, an intense fight that gave the three riders in front some breathing space.

Ben Spies in his first outing as Yamaha factory rider qualified fifth but lost a lot of ground on the opening lap and was only able to recover to sixth place after a fight with Valentino Rossi. The seven-time champion in his first race for Ducati throw his Ducati from ninth to second place by the first corner only to fall down to seventh place by then end of the first lap. Spies and Rossi then had a spectacular fight until Rossis pace faded in the later stages of the race due to the Italian still recovering from his shoulder injury.

MotoGP-rookie Cal Crutchlow put his Monster Tech3 Yamaha an excellent and surprising eight on the grid but slipped back to 11th place in the race.

This all happened behind Casey Stoner though who dominated the first race weekend of the year. The 2007 champion was relieved to win and said he had a feeling similar to the one in 2007. The competitors have been warned.

1. Casey Stoner Honda, 42m38.569s
2. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha, + 3.440s
3. Dani Pedrosa Honda, + 5.051s
4. Andrea Dovizioso Honda, + 5.942s
5. Marco Simoncelli Gresini Honda, + 7.358s
6. Ben Spies Yamaha, + 10.468s
7. Valentino Rossi Ducati, + 16.431s
8. Colin Edwards Tech 3 Yamaha, + 26.293s
9. Nicky Hayden Ducati, + 27.416s
10. Hiroshi Aoyama Gresini Honda, + 28.920s
11. Cal Crutchlow Tech 3 Yamaha, + 34.539s
12. Hector Barbera Aspar Ducati, + 34.829s
13. Karel Abraham Cardion Ducati, + 37.957s

Toni Elias, Loris Capirossi, Randy de Puniet