Casey Opens 2011 Account With Superlative Qatar Victory
The 2011 World Championship kicked off tonight in Qatar, with an exhibition of the Repsol rider Casey Stoner, that kept his dominion of the Losail Circuit, where he has already won five times (four in MotoGP and one in 250cc). His team mates, Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso, finished third and fourth, respectively, after fighting each one of them his own battle in this first race of the year.
A Losail full of light was the scene where the curtain of a new World Championship rose. The climax of the night was the premiere class race. At 10 pm (local time), the MotoGP riders started their bikes for a new season and, when the red lights went out, it was again Pedrosa who took the lead in the first few metres. The Repsol rider started in Losail -for the first time since he started in the highest category- from the first row of the grid. Despite Valentino Rossi trying to overtake him from the inside in the first corner, the Repsol rider took the first position, followed by his team mate Casey Stoner.
In the first lap, Stoner saw how Jorge Lorenzo overtook him, and Dani Pedrosa as well, but the situation only lasted a few corners. In the second lap, Stoner took the lead of the race with Pedrosa following closely in second. They both started to put space between them and the current World Championship, until getting some advantage. It looked like it was going to be a duel between the two Repsol Honda Team riders. Behind the top three, Andrea Dovizioso was riding fourth with his fellow countryman Simoncelli at his wheel. The duel between them was also clear.
Stoner and Pedrosa, Pedrosa and Stoner, they both escaped together from the rest, spearheading the race and waiting for the last laps to battle for victory. But about the tenth lap. Pedrosa started to feel some discomfort in his left shoulder, which he had broken last year in Japan during the free practice for the Grand Prix, and he was forced to reduce his pace. Stoner saw his chance and overtook his team mate on lap 12, riding alone on his way to victory, his fourth win in Losail and the first with Repsol Honda Team colours.
The Spaniard did all he could to keep the pace, but as laps went by, he was more tired and lacked strength and feeling in his left arm. Finally, Lorenzo was able to catch him and passed him on lap 15. Pedrosa overtook him two laps later, but Lorenzo was able to recover the place after four laps. In the end, Lorenzo was second and Pedrosa took the third position.
And behind the three podium positions, a determined Andrea Dovizioso had an intense duel with Simoncelli for the whole race. On lap 17 of the 22 of the race, the Repsol Honda Team rider overtook Simoncelli and secured the fourth position, thus completing a positive weekend for the Repsol Honda Team.
“After a great pre-season, we came into this race weekend and everything kept getting better and better for us. This morning in warm up we had a few issues getting a good feeling with the bike carrying a full tank of fuel and this issue also affected us in the early part of the race, but we knew as the fuel level decreased and the tyres aged, that our bike would come back to us. Dani came past and we decided to follow to see where he was strong and where I was weak. Then when I started to feel more confident with the bike and had more grip and better turning, we decided to push forwards and take advantage. Tonight the bike was fantastic, as it has been for all the sessions and I’m very proud to be racing for Repsol Honda and to take my first victory in the first race. It is a great way to start the season! I’m really happy with how everything has gone and the way the team has all worked together, a big thanks to Honda and my best wishes to Japan in this difficult time”.