MotoGP Qatar Race Report: Stoner Wins Convincingly After Fighting to the Lead

What Happens When the Outcome is Expected but the Method is Not

3:52pm EST — Casey Stoner continued his domination of the Grand Prix of Qatar, winning with more than three seconds over Jorge Lorenzo and five seconds on teammate Dani Pedrosa. Though the Australian dominated at the end, there was plenty of scrapping throughout the race, with Lorenzo leading early on, then Pedrosa, and Valentino Rossi nearly into second at the first turn. He quickly dropped back and spend much of the race fighting over sixth with his replacement Ben Spies. Andrea Dovizioso and Marco Simoncelli showed the beginnings of what looks to be a major fight for 2011, with the two factory Honda (Repsol Honda and Gresini Honda, respectively) riders fighting tooth and nail over fourth position, with Dovi beating Simo by the end.

Stoner started the 2011 season off well, winning pole for the during Saturday’s qualifying by two tenths over teammate Pedrosa, with Lorenzo completing the front row. Despite fighting for a place on the front row during much of the session, new factory Yamaha rider Spies started fifth, having been pipped by Simoncelli, on on of those very quick Hondas, in the final minutes of the session. Barbera, famous this weekend mainly by catching a tow from anyone available, will complete the second row. Bad form for Ducati continued, with Barbera the quickest for the Italian manufacturer and new hire  Rossi only able to qualify ninth, with fellow factory rider Hayden thirteenth. Rookie Crutchlow qualified a great eighth, despite pain from shearing off the tip of his little finger in a practice accident.

Pedrosa was fastest during the afternoon warm-up, with Stoner close behind. Lorenzo and Spies were the next fastest, as it was in the qualifying session, though Spies was a half second slower than his teammate. Sunday night was the warmest of the weekend, with spirits high even between the factory Ducati riders on the grid. Sole Suzuki rider Alvaro Bautista had a difficult crash during the final free practice, breaking his  femur and leaving the team without a rider. John Hopkins will substitute for the team in the second race, at Jerez.

The Hondas were away quickly, but for a moment the great surprise was Rossi’s start. He was almost second into the first turn before getting bogged down in the group and dropping back down to sixth. de Puniet had a scary highside, tucking into himself in the middle of the track as half the field stormed around him. He got up, but was unable to continue. Lorenzo had the lead by the end of the first lap, but was taken by both Honda’s across the line at the end of the second lap. Quickly, Loris Capirossi, who hit his hand on the way past the crashing de Puniet, was in the garage and retired as well. Continue reading

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MotoGP Qatar Quali Report: Stoner Ahead of Everyone, Rossi to Start 9th

What Happens When the Season Starts at Night

2:07pm EST — Casey Stoner started the 2011 season off well, winning pole for the Grand Prix of Qatar by two tenths over teammate Dani Pedrosa, with Jorge Lorenzo completing the front row. Despite fighting for a place on the front row during much of the session, new factory Yamaha rider Ben Spies will start fifth, having been pipped by Marco Simoncelli, on on of those very quick Hondas, in the final minutes of the session. Hector Barbera, famous this weekend mainly by catching a tow from anyone available, will complete the second row. Bad form for Ducati continued, with Barbera the quickest for the Italian manufacturer and new hire Valentino Rossi only able to qualify ninth, with fellow factory rider Nicky Hayden thirteenth.

MotoGP racing got started in Qatar days before the race weekend with two days of premier class testing at the desert circuit. Stoner and his fellow Honda riders dominated throughout the testing and practice sessions in Qatar, seemingly able to set fastest times at will. Stoner was nearly effusive in his praise of the Honda, and pointed in veiled criticisms of the struggling Ducati, his former team. Rossi continued to post times well down in the pack while Hayden, who has some experience with the difficult Ducati, was occasionally faster than his still-recovering teammate. Reigning champion Lorenzo has a new teammate in Spies, who was sometimes faster than the Spaniard while both were left searching for pace behind the universally quick Hondas.

In even worse news, sole Suzuki rider Alvaro Bautista had a difficult crash during the final free practice, breaking his  femur and leaving the team without a rider. After his publicity laps during the test, reserve rider John Hopkins was already home in California while offers to Moto2 riders fell through. Suzuki will not race at Qatar, though Hopkins will race for the team in Jerez. Continue reading

MotoGP Jerez, Results & Full Race Report: Lorenzo Led at the End, but Pedrosa Dominated from Pole

What Happens When It’s the Beginning and the End That Are Exciting

8:58am EST — Jorge Lorenzo won a race that looked as though it were in the sole possession of countryman Dani Pedrosa, who led from pole until halfway through the final lap and finished second after some close fighting with Lorenzo.  Valentino Rossi finished third, with Nicky Hayden and Casey Stoner’s Ducatis rounding out the top five.  While the MotoGP Spanish GP from Jerez did not live up to the incredibly exciting racing of the season opener in Qatar, the two young Spaniards made up for it at the end.  Mika Kallio had a great race to finish in seventh, while the satellite Yamaha’s of Colin Edwards and Ben Spies did not fare so well, finishing twelfth and not at all, respectively.

Despite a postponed race last weekend due to the volcanic ash cloud, qualifying showed the bike mad Spanish crowds the sort of show they wanted, with the end result being two Spaniards on on the front role, with Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo, Casey Stoner, and Valentino Rossi the top four qualifiers.  American Ducati rider Nicky Hayden seems to have shaken off the gremlins from his first season at Ducati, qualifying fifth.  Pedrosa’s problems with the Honda continued, as he changed chassis and set up multiple times, despite his good qualifying.  Rossi still suffered from his injured shoulder and cracked humerus, while Lorenzo’s thumb seemed to be quite healed, though still not 100%.

Pedrosa got a good start from pole, maintaining the lead into the first turn, with Rossi just behind from the second row.  Hayden also got a fabulous start, slotting into a solid third and challenging Rossi for second.  Behind, Stoner was behind Lorenzo in fifth, with Ben Spies very close behind. Randy de Puniet, meanwhile, had a terrible start, sliding backward amongst the pack. Continue reading

MotoGP Qatar Race Results & Full Race Report: Rossi Wins After Stoner Crashes Out; Lorenzo, Dovi, & Hayden Fight for 2nd

What Happens When MotoGP Racing is Close

5:05pm EST — It was an exciting race under the lights in Qatar, with Valentino Rossi winning the season opener in Qatar, even as he ran out of fuel on the cool down lap, after Casey Stoner crashed out of the lead.  The fight for the podium was dramatic, with Jorge Lorenzo coming from a fourth position to pick off the hard-racing Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden for second, while those two had to settle for third and fourth, respectively.  Fellow Americans and Monster Tech 3 teammates Ben Spies and Colin Edwards finished fifth and eighth.

Casey Stoner has dominated Qatar the past few years, and the racing this weekend has bee no exception.  His pole time was set early in the qualifying session on Saturday, before the track truly rubbered in, and despite Valentino Rossi’s best efforts, it was not to be topped.  Rossi started second, with his still-recovering (from a broken right wrist) Fiat Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo and Randy de Puniet finishing out the front row.  Americans Colin Edwards, Nicky Hayden, and Ben Spies started eighth, ninth, and eleventh, respectively.  Both factory Repsol Hondas of Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso changed chassis before the morning warm-up, which Stoner also dominated.

It was Pedrosa who got the best start, to edge past Rossi into the first turn, though he lost the lead to Rossi very quickly,  Stoner was just behind teammate Hayden in fourth, with Lorenzo in fifth.  At the end of L1, Rossi led Pedrosa, then Hayden, Stoner, Lorenzo.  Into the first turn, Pedrosa reclaimed the lead as Stoner made his way around Hayden, then picked off Rossi a few turns into the lap.  Stoner hunted down Pedrosa quickly, as the two opened a teeny gap over Rossi.  Again into the first turn (on L3) Stoner took the lead from Pedrosa and immediately began opening a gap.  He would have as much as two or three seconds, as the fighting continued behind him, with Rossi coming after Pedrosa and Hayden keeping a watchful eye on Dovizioso. Continue reading

Moto2 Qatar Race Results: Tomizawa Takes Series First Win in Messy & Action-Packed Race

What Happens When the Class Delievers

3:35pm EST — Shoya Tomizawa was the man in the lead when the checkered flag fell on the first-ever Moto2 class race after carnage hit the packed circuit, with three of the four front-row starters falling before the first lap was complete.  Alex de Angelis and Stefan Bradl came together after a technical issue on de Angelis’ bike, as Julian Simon was forced to retire with clutch problems.  Tomizawa started ninth on the grid (full starting grid here), caught up polesitter Tony Elias and Jules Cluzel to fight for the lead.  Tomizawa took the lead and maintained a three second gap for much of the end of the race while Cluzel and Alex Debon fought for second, with the Spaniard taking the spot from the Frenchman for the flag.  Elias held on the finish fourth.

Inaugural Moto2 Race Results from Qatar (courtesy of the official MotoGP site):
1. 48 Shoya TOMIZAWA, Technomag-CIP
2. 6 Alex DEBON, Aeroport de Castello – Ajo +4.656
3. 16 Jules CLUZEL, Forward Racing +4.789
4. 24 Toni ELIAS, Gresini Racing Moto2 +6.978
5. 44 Roberto ROLFO, Italtrans S.T.R. +7.178
6. 75 Mattia PASINI, JIR Moto2 +11.804
7. 12 Thomas LUTHI, Interwetten Moriwaki Moto2 +11.861
8. 3 Simone CORSI, JIR Moto2 +12.346
9. 2 Gabor TALMACSI, Fimmco Speed Up +13.821
10. 40 Sergio GADEA, Tenerife 40 Pons +20.189
11. 77 Dominique AEGERTER, Technomag-CIP +21.289
12. 25 Alex BALDOLINI, Caretta Technology Race Dept +21.360
13. 10 Fonsi NIETO, Holiday Gym G22 +21.835
14. 17 Karel ABRAHAM, Cardion AB Motoracing +21.973
15. 52 Lukas PESEK, Matteoni CP Racing +26.265
16. 63 Mike DI MEGLIO, Mapfre Aspar Team +26.265
17. 14 Ratthapark WILAIROT, Thai Honda PTT Singha +26.599
18. 9 Kenny NOYES, Jack & Jones by A.Banderas +33.833
19. 29 Andrea IANNONE, Fimmco Speed Up +33.895
20. 71 Claudio CORTI, Forward Racing +40.992
21. 41 Arne TODE, Racing Team Germany +43.119
22. 55 Hector FAUBEL, Marc VDS Racing Team +43.249
23. 45 Scott REDDING, Marc VDS Racing Team +45.397
24. 53 Valentin DEBISE, WTR San Marino Team +46.472
25. 96 Anthony DELHALLE, Qatar Endurance Racing Team +51.157
26. 61 Vladimir IVANOV, Gresini Racing Moto2 +54.252
27. 59 Niccolo CANEPA. RSM Team Scot +54.631
28. 39 Robertino PIETRI, Italtrans S.T.R. +1:15.976
29. 76 Bernat MARTINEZ, Maquinza-SAG Team +1:16.222
30. 88 Yannick GUERRA, Holiday Gym G22 +1:20.651
31. 95 Mashel AL NAIMI, Blusens-STX +1:20.719
32. 5 Joan OLIVE, Jack & Jones by A.Banderas +1:41.990
Not Classified
8 Anthony WEST, MZ Racing Team+12 laps
72 Yuki TAKAHASHI, Tech 3 Racing +13 laps
21 Vladimir LEONOV, Vector Kiefer Racing +13 laps
68 Yonny HERNANDEZ, Blusens-STX +17 laps
80 Axel PONS, Tenerife 40 Pons +17 laps
35 Raffaele DE ROSA, Tech 3 Racing +18 laps
Not finished first lap
15 Alex DE ANGELIS, RSM Team Scot FORCE GP210
60 Julian SIMON, Mapfre Aspar Team RSV
65 Stefan BRADL, Viessmann Kiefer Racing SUTER

MotoGP Qatar Quali: Stoner Sets Early Time That Can’t Be Beat, Even As Rossi and Lorenzo Try

What Happens When a Fit Stoner is a Hard Man to Catch

1:00am EST — Casey Stoner set a fast early time that simply could not be beaten, though it looked as though Valentino Rossi just might at the end of the qualifying session.  He did not and will start second for the season opener under the lights at Qatar.  Still recovering from an off-season motocross accident, Jorge Lorenzo will start third, with Randy de Puniet making a surprise move to complete the front row.  Loris Capirossi continued Suzuki’s bettered pace from 2009, qualifying fifth, with the factory Hondas of Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa barely ahead of the satellite Yamaha of Colin Edwards in eighth.  Fellow American (and Stoner’s teammate) Nicky Hayden will start ninth with highest-ranked MotoGP rookie Hiroshi Aoyama (the final 250 champion) rounding out the top ten.

Both Marco Simonchelli and Mika Kallio had offs during the very early part of the session, but suffered no major injuries.  Neither did Alvaro Bautista, who crashed late in the session.  2009 WSBK champion Ben Spies will start in eleventh, three postions behind teammate Edwards and two behind Hayden, his fellow Americans.

Starting Grid for the MotoGP Qatar GP (courtesy of the official MotoGP website):
Position, Number, Rider, Manufacturer, Time, Gap
1. 27 Casey STONER, DUCATI, 1:55.007
2. 46 Valentino ROSSI, YAMAHA, 1:55.362 +0.355
3. 99 Jorge LORENZO, YAMAHA, 1:55.520 +0.513
4. 14 Randy DE PUNIET, HONDA, 1:55.831 +0.824
5. 65 Loris CAPIROSSI, SUZUKI, 1:55.899 +0.892
6. 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO, HONDA, 1:55.963 +0.956
7. 26 Dani PEDROSA, HONDA, 1:55.990 +0.983
8. 5 Colin EDWARDS, YAMAHA, 1:56.005 +0.998
9. 69 Nicky HAYDEN, DUCATI, 1:56.163 +1.156
10. 7 Hiroshi AOYAMA, HONDA, 1:56.227 +1.220
11. 11 Ben SPIES, YAMAHA, 1:56.271 +1.264
12. 36 Mika KALLIO, DUCATI, 1:56.283 +1.276
13. 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA, SUZUKI, 1:56.450 +1.443
14. 41 Aleix ESPARGARO, DUCATI, 1:56.652 +1.645
15. 58 Marco SIMONCELLI, HONDA, 1:56.957 +1.950
16. 40 Hector BARBERA, DUCATI, 1:57.130 +2.123
17. 33 Marco MELANDRI, HONDA, 1:57.325 +2.318

Moto2 Qatar Quali: Elias on Pole in a Session Marked by Close Quarters

What Happens When MotoGP Takes Over Moto2

12:31am EST — Tony Elias took pole from Julian Simon in the closing stages of a jam-packed and quite crowded inaugural Moto2 qualifying session, with forty-one riders starting the season (and series) opening night race.  Simon will start second with Stefan Bradl and fellow former premier class rider Alex de Angelis rounding out the front row.  The top thirteen starters all qualified within one second of Elias’ 2:01.904.

Starting Grid for the Moto2 Qatar GP (courtesy of the official MotoGP website):
Position, Number, Rider, Team, Time, Gap
1. 24 Toni ELIAS, MORIWAKI, 2:01.904
2. 60 Julian SIMON. RSV. 2:02.032 +0.128
3. 65 Stefan BRADL, SUTER, 2:02.038 +0.134
4. 15 Alex DE ANGELIS, FORCE GP210, 2:02.101 +0.197
5. 72 Yuki TAKAHASHI, TECH 3, 2:02.295 +0.391
6. 16 Jules CLUZEL, SUTER, 2:02.366 +0.462
7. 35 Raffaele DE ROSA, TECH 3, 2:02.560 +0.656
8. 6 Alex DEBON, FTR, 2:02.759 +0.855
9. 48 Shoya TOMIZAWA, SUTER, 2:02.771 +0.867
10. 25 Alex BALDOLINI, I.C.P., 2:02.866 +0.962
11. 40 Sergio GADEA, PONS KALEX, 2:02.881 +0.977
12. 44 Roberto ROLFO, SUTER, 2:02.883 +0.979
13. 63 Mike DI MEGLIO, RSV, 2:02.896 +0.992
14. 2 Gabor TALMACSI, SPEED UP, 2:02.916 +1.012
15. 59 Niccolo CANEPA, FORCE GP210, 2:03.002 +1.098
16. 12 Thomas LUTHI, MORIWAKI, 2:03.041 +1.137
17. 45 Scott REDDING, SUTER, 2:03.129 +1.225
18. 75 Mattia PASINI, MOTOBI, 2:03.155 +1.251
19.14 Ratthapark WILAIROT, BIMOTA, 2:03.192 +1.288
20. 77 Dominique AEGERTER, SUTER, 2:03.232 +1.328
21. 29 Andrea IANNONE, SPEED UP, 2:03.258 +1.354
22. 41 Arne TODE, SUTER, 2:03.341 +1.437
23. 17 Karel ABRAHAM, RSV, 2:03.346 +1.442
24. 10 Fonsi NIETO. MORIWAKI, 2:03.390 +1.486
25. 52 Lukas PESEK, MORIWAKI, 2:03.531 +1.627
26. 3 Simone CORSI, MOTOBI, 2:03.588 +1.684
27. 68 Yonny HERNANDEZ, BQR-MOTO2, 2:03.635 +1.731
28. 71 Claudio CORTI, SUTER, 2:03.725 +1.821
29. 53 Valentin DEBISE, ADV, 2:03.752 +1.848
30. 9 Kenny NOYES, PROMOHARRIS, 2:03.792 +1.888
31. 80 Axel PONS, PONS KALEX, 2:04.301 +2.397
32. 55 Hector FAUBEL, SUTER, 2:04.417 +2.513
33. 61 Vladimir IVANOV, MORIWAKI, 2:04.470 +2.566
34. 5 Joan OLIVE, PROMOHARRIS, 2:04.476 +2.572
35. 21 Vladimir LEONOV, SUTER, 2:04.579 +2.675
36. 39 Robertino PIETRI, SUTER, 2:04.629 +2.725
37. 95 Mashel AL NAIMI, BQR-MOTO2, 2:04.871 +2.967
38. 96 Anthony DELHALLE, BQR-MOTO2, 2:04.912 +3.008
39. 8 Anthony WEST, HONDA, 2:05.362 +3.458
40. 88 Yannick GUERRA, MORIWAKI, 2:05.460 +3.556
41. 76 Bernat MARTINEZ, BIMOTA, 2:06.310 +4.406