Lorenzo proud, Spies satisfied in Qatar
Reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo delivered a strong performance for the opening round of the 2011 MotoGP Championship under the floodlights of the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.
The young Mallorcan started well off the line, leading the front pack, briefly before settling into third behind Stoner and Pedrosa as they battled for the lead. With eight laps to go, he hunted down his fellow Spaniard and moved up into second. He surrendered the spot briefly for two laps and then retook it with a decisive pass. Lorenzo then set 1’55.8 lap times for the 20th and 21st laps. Lorenzo crossed the line in second, having closed the gap to lead rider Stoner to just 3.440 seconds.
Fellow Yamaha Factory Racing rider Ben Spies had a less successful start, getting caught up into the first corner and dropping to eighth as the pack settled. The Texan quickly closed in on Hector Barbera in front, dispatching him after three laps to begin the hunt for Valentino Rossi in sixth. After several laps maintaining a distance of just 0.1 to 0.2 seconds, Spies made a pass at the end of the start finish straight but carried too much speed into the corner, running wide and tucking back in behind Rossi. After rebuilding his momentum, he made his next attempt stick, with a carbon copy of the pass he made originally, this time without the error. He then echoed his team mate with a lap time of 1’55.812 on the 18th lap. By the time he crossed the line in sixth, the gap to Rossi had built to 5.96 seconds.
Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha Factory Racing “I think maybe I am more proud of that podium than a race victory, that’s how I feel tonight. I feel very proud of myself and my team who never gave up and worked to give me the best bike that they can. I put everything I have inside into my riding on the track for the race. From the start to the end, I was on the limit every lap. I almost crashed on one corner but I managed to stay on the bike and finished in second position which is the best that I could do.”
Ben Spies, Yamaha Factory Racing “That’s the first race of the year done and dusted, it wasn’t picture perfect and I got pushed out a bit in turn one, getting trapped behind Barbera and Rossi the first few laps. They were fighting together which meant I lost touch with the guys in front. Other than that it was a good race, I struggled to get by Valentino for a while, he was riding really well and he’s not an easy guy to get around! Once we were able to get past, we set fast lap times and the bike was feeling good. It was just the first part of the race that didn’t pan out. We race in two weeks so I’m happy to get back on it at Jerez. It’s the first race of the year, I didn’t make top five but we got some points so I’m happy.”