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Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo put in a strong opening showing for the Fiat Yamaha Team tonight, finishing second and third under the Qatar floodlights after the race was delayed 24 hours following last night’s heavy rain. Tech 3 Yamaha rider Colin Edwards brought his M1 home in fourth, making it three Yamaha’s in the top four, with Casey Stoner taking the race win.
Starting from second on the grid, Rossi lost some ground at the start and was passed by Loris Capirossi and then Lorenzo. He had passed his team-mate back by the end of the first lap and on lap three he despatched Capirossi, but by that time Stoner was already some three seconds clear. The world champion set off in pursuit and after ten laps had closed the gap to less than two seconds, but the wear and tear from pushing so hard on his Bridgestone tyres was beginning to tell and he wisely chose to settle for the safe option and twenty points, crossing the line 7.771 seconds adrift.
His team-mate Lorenzo, who finished second here last year in what was his first MotoGP race, rode a spirited race from the third grid spot. He slipped down to sixth at one point but found his rhythm and fought back to pass Edwards, Capirossi and eventually Dovizioso to take the final podium spot, a further eight seconds behind Rossi.
Round two of the MotoGP World Championship takes place at Motegi in Japan in just under two weeks time.
Valentino Rossi – Position: 2ndTime: +7.771
"So I think it’s definitely more fun to race on a Monday than test, like last year! Today the conditions of the track were quite different to before and this evening in warm-up we encountered a couple of small problems related to tyres, so our strategy had to change slightly tonight. It’s a pity because I think last night we could have put up more of a fight, but anyway this is a good result to start the season, much better than last year. I knew I needed a good start in order to go with Stoner but unfortunately I didn’t get one and I lost some time fighting with Lorenzo and Capirossi and by then Stoner had already gone! The middle part of the race was great fun and I made six or seven good laps to come much closer, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to continue in that rhythm, it was too risky for the tyres and I decided it was more important to take the 20 points. Casey was very strong today but he is always fast here and I believe that our potential is very good; I think that we can be back fighting again in Motegi. I am so glad we could race today after yesterday and I am satisfied to be leaving here having made a good start to the season – it is long!"
Jorge Lorenzo – Position: 3rdTime: +16.244
"I am so happy to be on the podium tonight, I really enjoyed some parts of the race when I made some good overtakes and felt confident enough to take some risks. The grip of the track was better tonight but my rear tyre was moving from the start, so this is something we need to address and improve. Apart from the result and the points it is clear we have some work to do because our pace tonight was too far off Rossi and especially Stoner. The gap is too big! After yesterday’s crazy weather I am really happy we could race, it was very important for everyone and now we have got the season underway with a good result, my aim is to be much closer to the leaders in Motegi."
Davide Brivio – Team Manager
"We didn’t win but we can consider this a good start to the season, certainly much better than in 2008. Now we need to work to fix one or two small problems that we have. The middle part of the race was good, we were gaining on Stoner but in the latter stages he was in a better condition to push and Valentino was right to settle for second. It’s a long championship and the points are important. We are confident that we will be able to battle with Stoner in Motegi."
Daniele Romagnoli – Team Manager
"We are happy with the result because we have started the season well and this is very important, especially with so many rule changes to get used to. It is clear that we have some hard work to do in order to close the gap on the leaders and that we need to improve our setting further, so this will be our target for Motegi. Well done to everyone for the effort to get the race run tonight, it was very important to have the chance to compete."
Edwards claims brilliant fourth in floodlit Qatar opener
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team finally ended an eventful Qatar MotoGP weekend with Colin Edwards riding to a brilliant fourth place finish in tonight’s rescheduled opening race.
The race was run nearly 24 hours late after the opening round of the 2009 world championship was postponed because of a freak desert storm last night. Tonight’s race went ahead over the scheduled 22-lap distance after Losail International Circuit staff spent the day using specialist vehicles to clear dust and sand off the surface.
Edwards produced one of the best performances of the race in which he was able to showcase his overtaking skills. His stunning surge from ninth on lap one culminated with a pass by Andrea Dovizioso for fourth on lap 14 to ensure Yamaha claimed three of the top four places.
British rider James Toseland looked well set for a top ten challenge as he shadowed Randy de Puniet and Mika Kallio in the early stages. But just as he closed in for an attack, he ran off into the gravel trap at the final corner on lap seven after a tangle with Toni Elias. He got back on track and finished just outside the points in 16th position.
Colin Edwards 4th – 13pts
"That was a good start to the season after I made a rubbish start to the race. I thought I’d got a good start but the next thing I know is everybody flying by me. I was way down and it cost me the chance to fight for the podium really. I’m not saying I could have run with Jorge (Lorenzo) because he was riding really well, but it would have been nice to give myself a shot. The track conditions were good considering the rain we had last night and I just concentrated on being smooth and not abusing the tyre too much and it paid off because when I caught (Andrea) Dovizioso I could see he was having some issues. By the time I passed him for fourth, Jorge was long gone and it was going to take a massive mistake from him for me to get close to Jorge but I kept pushing. I’d like to think I could have kept the pace with Jorge if I’d got a good start, but it’s easy to say that after the race. The grip from Bridgestone was really good and I’m glad we all stayed and raced. I just want to say thanks to all my guys at Monster Yamaha Tech 3. It has been a long and difficult weekend but we have all pulled together, stayed strong and focused and come out with a good result, so I’m looking forward to another good race in Japan next time out.
James Toseland 16th – 0pts
"It has been a difficult weekend to say the least and I know we have got a long way to catch up. This race was almost like a test for me, and like in testing, I didn’t have a lot of luck out there. I felt like I could fight for the top ten but Toni Elias came up the inside of me at the final corner as I was closing on Randy de Puniet and Mika Kallio. He touched me and I went off into the gravel and that left me out of the points unfortunately. We tried a different front-end setting for the race to try and solve some stability issues I’ve been having, and there is plenty of room for improvement. I just need time on the bike and a bit of luck to go my way. My guys have put in a lot of effort this weekend and I’m confident I can get a good result in Japan for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team."