Moto GP – Round one – Qatar


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In the past few seasons it’s become routine to note that World Superbike racing provides 10x the entertainment of Moto GP, but the 2010 season might be different if the season-opener under the lights at the Losail Circuit in Qatar in the Mid-East is a precursor of things to come.


"So Max said, you wait and see who’s still in MotoGP in five years’ time".
Rossi gets a laugh out of Edwards.

Four different leaders, no firm look at a winner until a couple of laps from the end, and a nail-biting 0.011 second split in the fight for the last podium position made for a positively scintillating race.

That’s particularly true in light of the results for Marlboro Ducati star Casey Stoner, who dominated practice and qualifying, grabbed the lead early on, extended it easily, then crashed under braking. Well, sh*t …

That left (who else) Valentino Rossi on the Fiat Yamaha scrapping madly with (who’d have guessed after practice?) Spanish midget Dani Pedrosa.

The supposed Honda No. 1 guy has been having a terrible time with the bike’s handling, but got an unbelievable start from the fourth row (it doesn’t hurt that he only weighs 112 lb …) to lead into T-1 ahead of Rossi, who is hardly known as a great starter.


Hayden seems to be finally getting to grips with the Ducati.

And behind them was a Ducati, but not pole-sitter Stoner – it was his team-mate Nicky Hayden, the 2006 world champion who seems to have finally come to grips with the miserable bitch of a fast bike the Ducati appears to be.

Rossi quickly dispatched Pedrosa and tried to slip into the distance, until Stoner slammed past Hayden and then Pedrosa, caught Rossi with ease and slipped on by to in his own turn extend what looked like an easy lead … until he crashed all by himself.

That left Rossi in the unusual position of fighting with Pedrosa and Hayden, shortly to be joined by Andrea Divizioso, the second Repsol Honda rider (who may very well become the first Repsol Honda rider if he continues as he is).


"No Casey, eyes on the track!". Stoner gets distracted.

Pedrosa started to slide back down the field as Dovi joined the group, and then Rossi’s team-mate Jorge Lorenzo joined the group in spite of riding with a right hand still tender from a broken bone less than a month ago.

He in turn shortly had Moto GP “rookie” Ben Spies not far behind, Spies taking his Tech 3 satellite Yamaha rudely up the field past multiple world champions in his first ride as a series regular. People were impressed by him during the pre-season stuff; finishing fifth in his first race was jaw-droppingly impressive.

Lorenzo jammed his way up to second and had a couple of looks at Rossi, but in the last couple of laps Rossi eased away slightly. Behind the two Fiat Yamahas, Dovizioso and Hayden were hammering on each other, the Honda having unbelievable speed down the front straight (10 km more than anyone else) and still with a seriously impressive drive out of the last corner onto the long straight.


What kind of trophy is that then?

Hayden, who ran third for most of the race, made a nice pass on the last lap but Dovi out-dragged him to the flag, taking the last podium spot by a wheel-width.

Farther back, Hiroshi Aoyama impressed with a 10th place in his first Moto GP race (having won the last 250 World title in 2009 he’s hardly a rookie racer, but his Interwetten Honda is hardly the best non-factory bike out there).

And Loris Capirossi managed a ninth on his Rizla Suzuki, competing in his 300th GP, having been a world champion in 125s and 250s. Amazing.

It was a fantastic race. Here’s hoping it keeps up for the season.

Oh, and how close are the teams cutting things this year? Rossi ran out of gas on his cool-down lap.


300 races and a $50 trophy. Capirossi gets a honorary nod.

Results/standings after one of 18 rounds:

1. Valentino Rossi, Italy, Fiat Yamaha, 25 points; 2. Jorge Lorenzo, Spain, Fiat Yamaha, 20; 3. Andrea Dovizioso, Italy, Repsol Honda, 16; 4. Nicky Hayden, U.S.A., Marlboro Ducati, 13; 5. Ben Spies, U.S.A., Tech 3 Yamaha, 11;

6. Randy De Puniet, France, LCR Honda, 10; 7. Dani Pedrosa, Spain, Repsol Honda, 9; 8. Colin Edwards, U.S.A., Tech 3 Yamaha, 8; 9. Loris Capirossi, Italy, Rizla Suzuki, 7; 10. Hiroshi Aoyama, Japan, Interwetten Honda, 6.

Next event April 25, Motegi, Japan.



  1. Sure it was not a snoozer, but I would get too excited just yet. If Stoner didn’t crash it, he would have run away (which would be a boring race from the winner’s point of view), while Rossi didn’t have to really fight anyone in the second half at all.

    So, we will see ….

    ps. Now, you want to talk lead changes, lets talk Moto2 … LOL

  2. For those who didn’t catch it I would suggest staying up til 3am to watch the re-airing. What a cracking race, i havent seen dog fights like that since the 990cc era.
    What impressed me about Spies was not getting 5th place (top 10 pretty easy with only 13 riders finishing the race) it was that he was lapping within a half second of Rossi et al.
    My bet is Spies takes 4th in the championship.

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