Qatar GP: Honda race report

Dovizioso Fifth in Repsol Honda Debut Former World Champion Casey Stoner (Ducati) won the rain-delayed Qatar Grand Prix by speeding from the pole position to the checkered flag on a warm night in the desert east of Doha. The win was his third...

Dovizioso Fifth in Repsol Honda Debut

Former World Champion Casey Stoner (Ducati) won the rain-delayed Qatar Grand Prix by speeding from the pole position to the checkered flag on a warm night in the desert east of Doha.

The win was his third in a row on the Losail International Circuit and the first under the new racing regulations that include control tires and limited practice and qualifying. None of which seemed to bother the 23-year-old Australian.

Stoner sped away at the start, built a comfortable lead in the early going, then rebuffed a mid-race attack by Valentino Rossi (Yamaha). From the 11th lap to the end of the 22-lap affair, Stoner steadily built his lead to a margin of victory of 7.771 seconds. Rossi's teammate Jorge Lorenzo was third. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) came home in fourth just ahead of Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda).

Stoner had to wait a day to notch his third consecutive win. Rare torrential rains just as the MotoGP field was about to start its warm-up lap on Sunday night forced the postponement of the race to Monday night. The only time anyone could remember this ever happening to the senior class was in the 1960's when the 500cc GP on the Isle of Man was delayed a day by "fog on the mountain."

Repsol Honda's Andrea Dovizioso nearly equaled his stunning premier class debut from 2008 by finishing fifth. Dovi had moved into third on the fourth lap before front end issues that affected much of the 18-rider field also slowed his drive. The problem had never arisen during practice and qualifying, so the young Italian had some on the job learning. But he managed it well and gained valuable experience. Unfortunately, on lap 14 he was dropped one spot by Colin Edwards (Yamaha), but he'd still finish as the top Honda rider.

San Carlo Honda Gresini's Alex De Angelis made a late run at Dovi and closed to within 1.6 seconds at the stripe. The excitement in his race came on the 11th lap when he made contact with Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa as the pair went side-by-side through a left-hand corner. De Angelis ran wide, slamming into Pedrosa's left side and leg, which had recently been surgically repaired. Pedrosa slid off the left side of the saddle as his RC212V skated along the rumble strips, but somehow the gritty Spaniard managed to stay upright.

The controversial pass put De Angelis in seventh and two laps later he would steal sixth from Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki).

Teammate Toni Elias gave the San Carlo Honda Gresini squad a double top ten finish by taking ninth. But the Spaniard wanted more in his return to the team he last rode for in 2007, especially since he was racing a factory supported Honda RC212V. It hadn't been an easy weekend for Elias, who now looks forward to better things at the following grand prix in Motegi, Japan in two weeks.

Elias was the first of three Hondas to finish in order. Behind came LCR Honda's Randy de Puniet and Pedrosa. De Puniet battled a front tire grip problem that slowed him early on and he could finish no better than tenth.

Scot Racing Team MotoGP's Yuki Takahashi scored a point in his MotoGP debut. The former 250cc campaigner treated his first race like a master class, learning from the rest of the more experienced field. Mostly he learned about dealing with the front end and braking in what was his longest ever ride on a GP machine.

The second running of the night-time race was a success, even if the MotoGP world had to wait a day. The World Championship order is as per race order after only one race.

Andrea Dovizioso, Repsol Honda: 5th.
"I didn't start well but I was able to overtake some riders and get into third position. During the first three laps the machine was performing really well - as it had during practice - and I tried to keep in contact with Valentino, but then I started struggling with the front. It was folding entering the corners and, later, also mid-corner, so I couldn't turn as I would have liked. I had to slow down and compensate by turning with the rear tyre. We never had this issue during practice or the pre-season tests, so we need to understand what happened and do some more work to adapt the machine to the tyres. It was a very hard fight today, and I'm satisfied that we learned a lot here in practice and during the race. Now we'll analyze the data and work hard for the next one in Japan.".

Alex de Angelis, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 6th.
"I'm so happy with this result because I think we deserve it after working so hard this weekend. I didn't get a great start but I knew my pace was okay so I just tried to stay calm, pass as many people as possible and make up positions. We knew the podium was out of reach for us here but I always felt we were capable of a top result and sixth place falls into that category. I was called up to Race Direction to put forward my version of the collision with Dani but there was no complaint against me so it wasn't a big deal. This is just the start and even though we know this circuit suits my style of riding and my package, our aim is to be consistent and keep scoring results like this one. "

Toni Elias, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 9th.
"Taking into account where we started from and the problems we had this weekend, this is a decent result for us and I'm satisfied. In terms of points it probably would have been better for us if the race was cancelled here because we knew it would be tough for us but the truth is that if you had offered me ninth place on Friday, I probably would have taken it! We know we have work to do and we know exactly where our problems are, so we'll work together with Honda to try and fix them as much as possible before the next race in Japan."

Randy De Puniet, LCR Honda: 10th.
"I am a bit disappointed because I expected a better result after my performances in the practice sessions. I made a good start and after that I thought that the race was easy for me. But suddenly I started to suffer grip problems on my front tyre. It was a bit dangerous and did my best to manage the race like this. It's strange as I did not have this feeling during the whole week end and it was like riding on a soft tyre. My target was the top ten but I could get a better result in different conditions. Anyway we will analyse the data to be more competitive in Japan".

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 11th.
"Overall I'm happy because of my progress over the weekend. I improved in every session and I'm glad to have come here and scored five points - though I'm also slightly disappointed because it could even have been ten or eleven. I got a good start and the race was going very well at the beginning. After seven or eight laps, though, I had started to get some vibration with the front wheel which became more severe as the race progressed. I started to lose grip at the front and my lap times suffered, so we'll have to check what the issue was. I also suffered a lot physically in the race, and de Angelis gave me a big hit mid-race. The collision was avoidable I think because he could have passed me cleanly. My knee was giving me a lot of pain by the end and my left arm was pretty tired too. Still, we came away having completed the race and with a few points, which was our target, so I'm happy."

Yuki Takahashi, Scot Racing Team MotoGP:15th.
"The best came at the end, when I had a chance to follow Marco Melandri for a long while. I studied him, and I got a lot of information about how to deal with the front tyre and about braking points. Don't forget that this is my first race in the MotoGP class. Not only that, but I never did a long run before. I'm satisfied. My target was learning the bike and how to compete against the best riders in the world. How to deal in the heat of the first laps, and strategies, and tactics. At the beginning I lost a little time, but I did not want to make any silly mistake. And at the end I was able to keep the same pace of the riders who were in the first groups. And now, let's prepare for my home race, in 13 days, in Japan."

-credit: honda

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Valentino Rossi , Colin Edwards , Randy de Puniet , Chris Vermeulen , Marco Melandri , Andrea Dovizioso , Jorge Lorenzo , Toni Elias , Alex de Angelis , Casey Stoner , Dani Pedrosa , Yuki Takahashi