Qatari GP: Fiat Yamaha race report

LORENZO SHINES IN SECOND ON FANTASTIC MOTOGP DEBUT Fiat Yamaha Team rider Jorge Lorenzo sealed a weekend to remember in Qatar at the first ever MotoGP night race by finishing second on an impressive premier-class debut. The reigning double 250cc...


Fiat Yamaha Team rider Jorge Lorenzo sealed a weekend to remember in Qatar at the first ever MotoGP night race by finishing second on an impressive premier-class debut. The reigning double 250cc World Champion started from pole for the fifth consecutive year at this track, following three 250cc and one 125cc pole, and proved he will be a force to reckon with in 2008 with a mature ride to the runner-up spot behind Casey Stoner. Lorenzo's team-mate Valentino Rossi finished fifth after starting from seventh on the grid.

Lorenzo made a tentative start and dropped several places from his starting position, crossing the line after the first lap in fourth. The first eight laps were something of a dog-fight with the front six riders trading places back and forth several times, but the Yamaha rookie kept his head through the melee and gradually worked his way forward, eventually passing Rossi to take second behind Stoner on lap 9. He hung on to the World Champion for a while but gradually the stress of the first part of the race took its toll and the 20-year-old began to tire and suffer pain in his arms. He eventually crossed the line 5.323 seconds behind Stoner but the same distance clear of third-placed Dani Pedrosa.

Team-mate Rossi's fifth-place meanwhile was added to by Yamaha Tech 3 riders James Toseland and Colin Edwards in 6th and 7th, making it four Yamaha's in the top ten for the first race of the year. The MotoGP circus heads to Lorenzo's homeland next for the Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez on 30th March.

Jorge Lorenzo - Position: 2nd

"For sure I couldn't have expected a better debut than this and I am very, very excited to be on the podium. Second place is an amazing result for me and I had great fun. The start and first few laps were a bit crazy and really a bit of a scary time for me, but anyway I managed to make it through and get past some riders to get to second. I started to go with Stoner but after a while I became very tired and I started to have a lot of pressure and pain in my arms, so I really couldn't push any more! Anyway he was faster than us and I want to say congratulations to him because he deserved to win tonight. I think if I could have got a better start, maybe I wouldn't have got so tired later on and I would have been able to keep a better rhythm, but anyway I don't think I can ask for more than this tonight. I want to thank Yamaha and Michelin for all the hard work they have put in over the winter to get me to this point, and of course my team for all of their work. I don't want to start talking about the championship yet because this is only my first race, and now we will go to Jerez and do our very best again there and see what happens!"

Daniele Romagnoli - Team Manager

"What a weekend! After a long winter it was great to finally arrive at the race and all of us in the team really enjoyed watching Jorge make such a fantastic debut. We couldn't have asked for more and to do what he's done here is really fantastic. From now on it will be easier for him because he will know what to expect from a MotoGP race, and of course we've also collected some important information about his race performance to help us to improve his package. Thank you to the team, to Yamaha and to Michelin for doing a great job throughout the winter and tonight and well done once again to Jorge."

Masahiko Nakajima - Team Director

"The biggest problem here has been the track temperature but Michelin did a very good job here to counteract a difficult situation and their tyres have worked very well. We managed to find a good set-up for Jorge and we are very pleased with his first race. It's impressive that such a young rookie can do so well in such a tough race so a big congratulations to him for a brilliant second place."


The opening race of the MotoGP season and the championship's first night race saw Fiat Yamaha Team rider Valentino Rossi finish a disappointed fifth tonight, after struggling for pace on the cold track throughout the 22 lap race. His young team-mate Jorge Lorenzo meanwhile took second on his MotoGP debut.

Rossi, racing on Bridgestone tyres for the first time, made up two places on the opening lap and for the first few laps looked like he might be a contender for the top spots as he picked his way through the field. On lap five he took the lead and held onto it for three laps, but he was unable to ride his M1 as he wanted to and surrendered first place to Casey Stoner just three laps later. It was downhill for the Italian from then on as his pace dropped off and he began to slip back, unable to keep up with the leaders. Dani Pedrosa passed him for third and Rossi eventually became embroiled in a close battle for fourth with Andrea Dovizioso, with the rookie eventually running out the winner by just a fraction of a second.

It was a good night for Yamaha in general however as Lorenzo's podium, Rossi's fifth position and sixth and seventh places from Tech 3 riders James Toseland and Colin Edwards made it four Yamahas in the top ten. The next stop for the paddock will be Jerez, Spain on 30th March for the second race of 18.

Valentino Rossi - Position: 5th

"We expected a difficult race here, but actually not as difficult as this! We haven't been fast here in Qatar since last week's night test but, despite this, I thought we might be able to fight for the podium. Tonight however it was really difficult and now we have to understand the reason for this result. After five or six laps I started doing 56.4 and 56.5 and from then on I couldn't improve on that pace until the end. I was very fast in braking, but not so fast in the corners. We know that we can make our Bridgestone tyres work better than this, because they are winning tyres and tonight they showed it once again. Throughout the winter, at all tracks, we were very fast and this is the only one where we were not. Now our task is to understand why this happened. We had a couple of ideas to try but in the end we decided to stick to what we know because we need some more time to understand how to improve and how to be faster. We know we can do better than this and so we just need to gather all the information and use it in the best way for the next race. Finally I want to say congratulations to Lorenzo for a great debut tonight; honestly I'm not surprised because I knew he was fast and talented, but he did very well tonight in a hard race so well done to him."

Davide Brivio - Team Manager

"It was a very interesting day, because it was our first race with Bridgestone and we knew we were in a difficult situation. We were able to collect a lot of information and now our engineers and technicians have the chance to evaluate this and we will have some new material from the Friday in Jerez. Bridgestone won the race and Yamaha went very well and improved a lot in respect to last year. The other three M1s were very fast and so with Valentino now we need to gather these two ingredients and then together we know we have big potential. Our aim now is to exploit the package in the best way, starting from the next race."

Masahiko Nakajima - Team Director

"This was our first experience of a night race and it's been clear that the low track temperatures make controlling the tyre situation quite difficult. Added to that the low air temperatures mean that fuel consumption is also a worry. We spent a lot of time working with Bridgestone to try to find a good package but unfortunately we couldn't do enough tonight. Now we need to investigate exactly what's happened and act on it before the next race."


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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Valentino Rossi , Colin Edwards , James Toseland , Andrea Dovizioso , Jorge Lorenzo , Casey Stoner , Davide Brivio , Dani Pedrosa