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Stoner takes win in MotoGP opener

Casey Stoner

MotoGP highlights - Qatar

Australia's Casey Stoner eased to victory in the opening race of the MotoGP season in Qatar, with 2008 champion Valentino Rossi in second.

It was the 23-year-old Stoner's third consecutive win at the Losail International Circuit.

Jorge Lorenzo finished in third, while Britain's James Toseland finished in 16th and out of the points.

The floodlit race should have taken place on Sunday, but had to be cancelled because of heavy rain.

"I now feel I'm stronger than at the end of last year," said Stoner, the 2007 champion who is still recovering from wrist surgery last November.

"It is now time to keep it up, go for the next race and see what we can do. This is the best way to start the championship."

Stoner pleased with opening victory

Eight-time world champion Rossi said: "Unfortunately I lost a bit of time after the start to fight with Loris [Capirossi] and Jorge [Lorenzo].

"I had to decide if I ride second or crash and I decided to slow down a bit. The second place is a good result for us and the start of the season is better than last year."

Stoner led from the start on Monday, while Yamaha rider and defending champion Rossi moved into second with 20 laps remaining and with a two second deficit on Stoner's Ducati.

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Stoner managed to keep it at about the two second mark for the next three laps while Italy's Andrea Dovizioso and Rossi's team-mate Lorenzo had their own duel for third and were a further second adrift.

Suzuki rider Capirossi came to grief in spectacular fashion with 14 laps remaining, as with Colin Edwards challenging him for fifth spot he crashed and bounced several metres into the gravel before picking himself up gingerly to walk back to the pits.

Rossi brought the gap between him and Stoner down below the two second mark for the first time after nine laps of the 22 as the duo opened up a big gap between themselves and the rest of the field.

With 12 laps remaining Rossi had an eight second advantage over third-placed Lorenzo, but Stoner was not allowing his rival to close any further on him and with 10 laps to go he had almost a three second lead.

Stoner was up by three seconds with seven laps remaining, with Rossi seemingly powerless to do anything about it, but the eight-time world champion was by that stage nearly 15 seconds ahead of Lorenzo.

Rossi upbeat after Qatar second

With three laps remaining Stoner's lead stood at more than five seconds and he cantered home to victory to land the first blow of what promises to be a thrilling battle for the title.

Qatar's Losail International Circuit, the only night-time event on the MotoGP calendar, became the first race in 29 years to be postponed due to bad weather when heavy rain lashed down on Sunday.

Saturday's qualifying had already been difficult with dust, sand and wind, while the 250cc and 125cc races on Sunday were shortened because of rainfall and visibility problems.


Qatar MotoGP result:
1. Casey Stoner (Aus) Ducati 42 mins 53.984 secs
2. Valentino Rossi (Ita) Yamaha 43:01.755
3. Jorge Lorenzo (Spa) Yamaha 43:10.228
4. Colin Edwards (US) Yamaha 43:18.394
5. Andrea Dovizioso (Ita) Honda 43:21.247
6. Alex de Angelis (Smr) Honda 43:23.867
7. Chris Vermeulen (Aus) Suzuki 43:27.611
8. Mika Kallio (Fin) Ducati 43:28.739
9. Toni Elias (Spa) Honda 43:33.465
10. Randy de Puniet (Fra) Honda 43:36.268
11. Dani Pedrosa (Spa) Honda 43:42.510
12. Nicky Hayden (US) Ducati 43:42.867
13. Sete Gibernau (Spa) Ducati 43:46.199
14. Marco Melandri (Ita) Kawasaki 43:50.363
15. Yuki Takahashi (Jap) Honda 43:54.270
16. James Toseland (GB) Yamaha 44:08.962
17. Niccolo Canepa (Ita) Ducati 44:09.012
Did not finish: Loris Capirossi (Ita) Suzuki



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see also
Matt Roberts' MotoGP column
14 Apr 09 |  MotoGP
Stoner streaks to pole in Qatar
11 Apr 09 |  MotoGP
Rossi glad to continue competing
08 Apr 09 |  MotoGP
Pedrosa hopes to compete in Qatar
07 Apr 09 |  MotoGP
Toseland eyes greater consistency
07 Apr 09 |  MotoGP
Lorenzo happy to keep on learning
06 Apr 09 |  MotoGP
Toseland regrets Edwards fall-out
02 Apr 09 |  MotoGP
MotoGP on the BBC
15 Mar 11 |  MotoGP
MotoGP calendar 2011
15 Mar 11 |  MotoGP


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