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Page last updated at 15:44 GMT, Thursday, 8 April 2010 16:44 UK

Jorge Lorenzo has fitness doubts ahead of Qatar MotoGP

Qatar MotoGP, Losail
Date: 10-11 April
Saturday 10 April: Qualifying: 1950-2300, BBC Red Button/online
Sunday 11 April: 125cc and Moto2 races: 1750-2005, BBC Red Button/online Race live: 2045-2200, BBC Three/online; Rerun: 0000-0130, BBC Two


Jorge Lorenzo
Lorenzo missed vital pre-season testing because of his hand injury.

Jorge Lorenzo has admitted he is not fully fit for the opening race of the 2010 MotoGP season in Qatar on Sunday but insists he will give his all.

The Spaniard finished runner-up to Valentino Rossi in last year's title race and his build-up to the new season has been disrupted by a fractured hand.

"I'm glad because we're so close to the start of the season - it's been a long winter," said the Fiat Yamaha rider.

"I'm not perfect yet, I need more time to recover, but at least I can ride."

The 22-year-old is in his third season of elite-class racing, and has made a big impression in his two previous campaigns.

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In 2008 he made his top level debut at Sunday's venue, taking pole position for that race and finishing second, and following it up with two more poles and two more podium finishes in the subsequent races.

But his early progress was hampered by a tendency to crash and pick up injuries, and he ended the season fourth in the standings.

He ran Rossi a close second in the 2009 championship, and will enter the new season with high hopes of keeping up the pressure on his Yamaha team-mate and bitter rival - despite his pre-season problems.

"Unfortunately, I had some troubles in training and hurt my hand, but these things happen," he said.

"Qatar is a very special track for me; it was the place where I got my first podium in MotoGP in 2008.

"I know this time it will be more difficult, but I will try to be close to the action."

Former world champion Casey Stoner will also be eager to get back into action this weekend, after illness problems meant he had to settle for fourth place in last year's title race.

The Ducati rider has won all three previous races at the desert circuit, despite claiming it is not one of his favourites, and he will be keen to keep up that record under the lights on Sunday.

"We have always enjoyed great results in Qatar although the track isn't one of my favourites as a rider," said the Australian.

"It was good that they changed the race from daytime to night because they've made it different to anything else - it's interesting for the fans and it is good fun for us.

"I will give my maximum as always but it is only the first race of a very long season that will only start to take shape from the third or fourth round."

Valentino Rossi
Reigning champion Rossi was fastest in two of three pre-season tests.

But as usual, Valentino Rossi will be the man they all have to beat - and after topping the time sheets in two of the three pre-season tests, the Italian is looking forward to the serious business of winning races.

"We have only had six days on track so we still have work to do and things to learn about the new bike, but we are starting in good shape," said the 31-year-old, with six MotoGP titles.

"I expect this season to be a big battle with many riders very strong, and I hope that we will show some good racing to the fans.

"Qatar hasn't been one of the best tracks for our bike in the last few years but at the test we went well so I hope this will continue again for the race."

With no Britons competing in the top class this season, the main focus of interest for British fans will be the 125cc class, where 19-year-old Bradley Smith starts the season as favourite for the title, having finished runner-up last season.

"Pre-season has gone really well so I am calm and confident that we can do a good job," he said.

"I think I have the necessary experience to handle whatever is thrown at us.

"Testing went well and even though you could always do with a bit extra I am keen to begin the fight for points.

"The first race is always special because it is when you really get to see what everybody has got and how well you have done your job over the winter."



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see also
What makes Rossi great
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All set for Rossi v Stoner again
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MotoGP keen to expand into Asia
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Stoner sets pace in Qatar testing
19 Mar 10 |  MotoGP
Rossi dominates testing in Sepang
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Rossi sets pace in opening test
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Hungarian MotoGP cancelled again
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New date for Silverstone MotoGP
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Cool Rossi crowned world champion
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Hungarian MotoGP axed from list
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Bulgarians to host MotoGP racing
28 Feb 09 |  MotoGP
Hungary added to 2009 MotoGP list
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