The race started out perfectly for Rossi, the Italian finally managing to keep his 1st position (from the qualifying session) after the first corner. Stoner was soon on his trails, while Dani Pedrosa, Marco Melandri and John Hopkins tried to keep up the pressure on the leading duo.
Rossi lost the leading position after only one lap, since Stoner’s new Desmosedici GP7 proved a lot powerful than Rossi’s Yamaha one the main straight. Despite the Italian’s efforts to keep close with Stoner in the turning sections, his Yamaha always gave up on the circuit’s straights. Dani Pedrosa and John Hopkins managed to keep the pace with Rossi and Stoner and distanced from the rest of the pack.
By Lap 11, it was pretty clear that Stoner and Rossi were the only ones to fight for the Qatar crown. Once Pedrosa missed the entrance into the main straight, the Spaniard lost sight of the leading duo. He was to keep his 3rd place by the end of the race, with Hopkins constantly pressuring him for a podium appearance.
Rossi trailed Stoner for most of the remaining laps, except for the final section of Lap 19. Stoner recovered well, though, and managed to keep his distance from the Yamaha rider by Lap 22. The Italian realized that Stoner was not the man to beat on Saturday and gave up on the fight, losing more than 2 seconds in the last lap. Despite running on medium tires (as compared to Rossi’s hard tires), Stoner held on to his leading position and won his first ever MotoGP event in career. Also, his stunning performance proved that Ducati’s partnership with Bridgestone will have a serious say in this season’s title race.
Season’s opener was not that good for other MotoGP big guns. Loris Capirossi had to watch most of the action from his team’s pits, since the Italian crashed out by the half of the race. Marco Melandri had to settle for 5th, while Rossi’s teammate Colin Edwards followed the Gresini rider in 6th place. Defending champion Nicky Hayden finished the race on a disappointing 8th place, as he failed to undertake Australian Chris Vermeulen in the last few laps. Alex Barros managed a Top 10 performance on his MotoGP comeback event, trailing Hayden for 9th place.
“We couldn’t ask for much more, it was my first time racing with Ducati and Bridgestone, a perfect start. I couldn’t be happier with the weekend, the team worked perfectly and the bike and tyres were perfect in the race. We had a bit of a speed advantage and though we had some dramas in other parts of the track I played to the strengths of the bike and was able to do some pretty fast lap times. Valentino and I had a good battle, it was nice riding up front again. When he came by later on I decided to see how much further the bike can go and I was able to break a bit of an advantage”, said Stoner after the race.
Although admitting Stoner's & Ducati's superiority in the race, Rossi is confident in his team's efforts for the races to come: “ It was a great race today and a good battle, although of course we would have preferred to start the season with a win! I wanted to push Casey and try to take the fight to him more, but in fact he was perfect today. He didn’t make a single mistake as far as I could see and he rode very well; he deserved to win so congratulations to him. I could see that he was faster on the straight and so I knew that if I got in front I was going to need to make a gap from him, but in fact he was too strong! Now we need to find a little bit more horsepower, but Yamaha is working very hard and I am confident that we will continue to improve”.