Stoner claims third Qatar MotoGP win

Casey Stoner completed a perfect extended weekend in Qatar by winning the delayed MotoGP season-opener in commanding fashion on Monday evening, taking his third consecutive victory at Losail

Stoner claims third Qatar MotoGP win

The Ducati Marlboro rider, who also topped every session of the night event, beat reigning champion Valentino Rossi thanks to a perfect start from pole and a blistering pace that forced the Italian to give up the chase midway through the 22-lap race.

Behind Stoner's perfect start, Loris Capirossi made a fine getaway from fifth with his Rizla Suzuki to slot into second, ahead of the Fiat Yamahas of Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, with the two teammates exchanging position twice during the first lap.

In the space of two laps Stoner's lead over Capirossi was close to three seconds already, but by that time the Italian veteran was being caught by Rossi, who passed him on the third lap.

While Capirossi started dropping back, with Repsol Honda's Andrea Dovizioso and Lorenzo overtaking him before the former Ducati rider crashed on lap eight, Rossi began his chase of Stoner.

The gap between the two decreased to just under two seconds, before Rossi's pace started faltering on lap 11. By the end of the race Stoner had almost eight seconds on Rossi, who could however manage a sizeable lead on third-placed Lorenzo, who took the final podium place.

Colin Edwards classified his Tech-3 Yamaha in fourth place, ahead of Dovizioso in fifth and Alex de Angelis in sixth. The Gresini rider, however, is under investigation for banging his satellite Honda into Dani Pedrosa's factory entry while taking seventh place.

The Spaniard managed to keep the bike up straight despite the strong collision, just after he was overtaken by Chris Vermeulen's Suzuki for sixth place. Up until then, Pedrosa was having a strong race from 14th on the grid, despite still recovering from a wrist injury.

Vermeulen classified seventh, ahead of an impressive showing by Pramac Ducati rookie Mika Kallio and Toni Elias on the Honda Gresini. LCR Honda's Randy de Puniet completed the top ten.

Behind Pedrosa, who finished 11th, Nicky Hayden took 12th place in his debut race for Ducati Marlboro, with MotoGP returnee Sete Gibernau 13th with his Hernando Ducati.

Marco Melandri managed to salvage two points with his Hayate Kawasaki after he lost plenty of time in the gravel because of an off at the beginning of lap two.

Pos  Rider             Bike      Time
 1.  Casey Stoner      Ducati    42m53.984s
 2.  Valentino Rossi   Yamaha    +   7.771s
 3.  Jorge Lorenzo     Yamaha    +  16.244s
 4.  Colin Edwards     Yamaha    +  24.410s
 5.  Andrea Dovizioso  Honda     +  27.263s
 6.  Alex de Angelis   Honda     +  29.883s
 7.  Chris Vermeulen   Suzuki    +  33.627s
 8.  Mika Kallio       Ducati    +  34.755s
 9.  Toni Elias        Honda     +  39.481s
10.  Randy de Puniet   Honda     +  42.284s
11.  Dani Pedrosa      Honda     +  48.526s
12.  Nicky Hayden      Ducati    +  48.883s
13.  Sete Gibernau     Ducati    +  52.215s
14.  Marco Melandri    Kawasaki  +  56.379s
15.  Yuki Takahashi    Honda     +1m00.286s
16.  James Toseland    Yamaha    +1m14.978s
17.  Niccolo Canepa    Ducati    +1m15.028s

Retirements:

     Rider             Bike      Laps
     Loris Capirossi   Suzuki    7

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