Stoner Wins Qatar GP

Try to look at least a bit surprised, will you!? After dominating the entire testing this winter in the saddle of his new Honda RC212V, Australian rider Casey Stoner clinched the season opening Qatar GP on Sunday night, recording his 4th overall success at Losail International Circuit and his first with new team Repsol Honda.

And really, after scoring fastest times in all 3 practice sessions and qualifying on Saturday, the Qatar GP was only Stoner's to lose in the first place. However, his win didn't come as easy as expected, as reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo gave it everything to spoil all the Honda fun this weekend.

Stoner did not enjoy one of his best starts on Sunday and slipped to 3rd overall after the first corner, behind teammate Dani Pedrosa and Lorenzo. After a short stint in the lead, Pedrosa was overtaken by the Yamaha rider and it seemed that Lorenzo would actually provide the tri-factor in the season opening round.

The wonder did not last for too long though, as the Honda duo moved quickly in front, with Stoner leading Pedrosa by the end of Lap 3. Unlike in winter testing however, Stoner was unable to break clear of his teammate and, by Lap 6, he had already lost the lead to Pedrosa.

It took the Aussie no less than 7 laps to get back into the lead and, from that point onwards, nothing was to stand in his way to becoming quadruple winner of the race.

For Pedrosa however, things got worse, as he soon started to fight for his runner-up spot against Lorenzo. The two exchanged places several times late in the race, but it was eventually Lorenzo who came up on top, ending the race one and a half seconds ahead of his fellow countryman.

Honda secured the following two spots in the overall classification through works rider Andrea Dovizioso and Gresini's Marco Simoncelli, while Ben Spies claimed 6th place after a shady start. Valentino Rossi only managed 7th in his first race with Ducati, and a lot of that had to do with the pain in his shoulder.

While jumping to second place at the start, the Italian lost plenty of positions in the first lap and, by the end of the race, started struggling with his bike and lose ground. Nevertheless, he still managed to finish some 10 seconds ahead of Tech 3's Colin Edwards, while his teammate Nicky Hayden had to settle for 9th overall. The Top 10 was completed by Gresini's Hiroshi Aoyama.
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