Reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo delivered a perfect performance for the opening round of the 2011 MotoGP Championship under the floodlights of the Losail Circuit in Qatar tonight. The young Mallorcan started well off the line, leading the front pack briefly before settling into third behind Stoner and Pedrosa as they battled for the lead. With eight laps to go he hunted down Pedrosa and moved up into second. He surrendered the spot briefly for two laps then retook with a decisive pass, leaving the Spanish rider behind with an astounding burst of speed and posting 1.55.8 second lap times for the 20th and 21st laps. Lorenzo crossed the line in second for the hard won podium having closed the gap to lead rider Stoner to just 3.440 seconds.
Fellow Yamaha Factory Racing rider Ben Spies had a less successful start, getting caught up into the first corner and dropping to eighth as the pack settled. The Texan quickly closed in on Hector Barbera in front, dispatching him after three laps to begin the hunt for Valentino Rossi in sixth. After several laps maintaining a distance of just 0.1 to 0.2 seconds Spies made a pass at the end of the start finish straight but carried too much speed into the corner, running wide and tucking back in behind Rossi. He built up again and in a mirror of the first pass took Rossi at the end of the straight, making it stick through the first corner sequence and then echoed his team mate with a startling turn of speed, dropping to a 1’55.812 on the 18th lap. By the time he crossed the line in sixth the gap to Rossi had built to 5.96 seconds.
The Yamaha Factory Racing riders head to round two in Jerez in two weeks time with Lorenzo second in the MotoGP Championship standings on 20 points, team mate Spies sits in sixth with ten points.
Jorge Lorenzo – Position: 2nd – Time: +3.440
I think maybe I am more proud of that podium than a race victory, that’s how I feel tonight. I feel very proud of myself and my team who never gave up and worked to give me the best bike that they can. I put everything I have inside into my riding on the track for the race from the start to the end and was on the limit every lap. I almost crashed on one corner but I managed to stay on the bike and finished in second position which is the best that I could do.
Ben Spies – Position: 6th – Time: +10.468
That’s the first race of the year done and dusted, it wasn’t picture perfect and I got pushed out a bit in turn one, getting trapped behind Barbera and Rossi the first few laps. They were fighting together which meant I lost touch with the guys in front. Other than that it was a good race, I struggled to get by Valentino for a while, he was riding really well and he’s not an easy guy to get around! Once we were able to get past we set fast lap times and the bike was feeling good. It was just the first part of the race that didn’t pan out, I didn’t get a lucky break on the start. We race in two weeks so I’m happy to get back on it at Jerez. It’s the first race of the year, I didn’t make top five but we got some points so I’m happy.
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
A fantastic result! I’m very pleased for Jorge finishing second, a shame Ben struggled a little bit in the beginning with the start and got stuck behind Valentino too long. Jorge raced with a big heart, it was amazing to see him mix it with the competition and lead briefly in the early laps. We can see it will be a tough season, but we can see that Jorge can cut it at the front. I’m very proud of him, it was a fantastic race.
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
A great start for my first MotoGP, Jorge proved he can deliver a fantastic race. We saw in warm up that the competition wasn’t so far away and he pushed really hard throughout to achieve his podium. Ben unfortunately had a not so good start and lost some time behind Barbera and Rossi. When he finally passed them and had a clear track his lap times were really good, scoring the fourth best lap of the race. We are satisfied and can now look to Jerez with a confident ey
Edwards and Crutchlow make positive start in Qatar
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team made a bright start to the 2011 MotoGP World Championship in Qatar, Colin Edwards and Cal Crutchlow finishing with points scoring finishes in the season opening night race.
Edwards made a blistering start from the 10th position on the grid and was looking to force his way into the fight for the top six when he lost time by running slightly off line at the second corner. Dropping back into 10th behind team-mate Crutchlow, he quickly moved up to ninth to launch a pursuit of 2010 team-mate Ben Spies.
He closely followed his compatriot for the opening five laps, the 37-year-old setting a consistently fast pace in the mid-1.56 bracket. He shadowed the fast starting Hector Barbera until lap nine when he moved into eighth position. But he’d lost too much time trying to overtake the Spaniard to maintain the pressure on Spies and he finished eighth.
Crutchlow made an impressive MotoGP debut at the 5.38km Losail International Circuit having started in front of Valentino Rossi and Edwards on the grid. Hampered again by the nasty left little finger injury he suffered during the pre-race test in Qatar less than a week ago, Crutchlow rose to the occasion brilliantly, fighting for the top ten for most of the 22-lap race.
He was right on the back of a group battling for ninth that was headed by Nicky Hayden, Hiroshi Aoyama and Barbera. But like Edwards earlier in the race, Barbera proved tough to overtake and Crutchlow lost contact with Hayden and Aoyama with three laps remaining. He was rewarded for his determined performance when he swept by Barbera on the final lap to finish a hugely encouraging debut in 11th.
Colin Edwards – Position: 8th – Time: +26.293
“That was the best I could do and I’m happy with the way I rode and my guys at Monster Yamaha Tech 3 gave me a good bike as always. A top eight is pretty good considering the speed of the guys in front of me and I was pretty much where I thought I’d end up based on practice. I got a good start and thought the only way I’ve got any chance of getting a top six is to take a few early risks. I went round the outside at the first corner and made up a couple of places. But I had a couple of moments, one when I nearly ran into Ben, which wouldn’t have been a good move. I thought I might have had something for Valentino early on but even when he’s not 100 per cent he can still ride pretty good. I’m never happy with eighth but we got some decent points and we can move on to Jerez with confidence.”
Cal Crutchlow – Position: 11th – Time: +34.539
“I’m pretty happy with that and honestly I’d have liked to have got a top ten after how well qualifying went. I couldn’t keep up with the group that included Nicky and Aoyama because it was tough to pass Barbera. They passed Barbera and I then overtook him to chase them, but he got me back immediately and let them get away because his pace dropped off quite a bit. But he’s got a fast bike and that makes it hard to make a pass and stay in front of him. I was happy to be in the fight for the top ten for as long as I was and the experience gained is invaluable to help me progress in MotoGP. I wanted to finish and get a race under my belt, so it was mission accomplished. The next couple of races will be tough because I don’t know the circuits but I’ll be doing my best for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 squad.”
Herve Poncharal – Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team Manager
“Colin had a really good start and it was really interesting for the first few laps as he tried to battle with Ben and Valentino. When you look at the final position he was the best non-factory rider and in this field that is a big achievement. It is clear the top seven are really fast but Colin did his maximum with the package we’ve got. I am also very pleased with Cal. We didn’t know what to expect because of his inexperience and the finger he damaged in the test was a bad injury. But he was able to battle with Aoyama and Hayden, who are world champions. It was a good pass on Barbera too, who has a lot more experience than him and that result that will give him more confidence for the next race. In Jerez his finger will be a lot better and I’m sure he can learn the track quickly, so we are looking for another positive result.”
2011 MotoGP Qatar
Losail Circuit 20/03/2011 22 Laps
1 Casey Stoner Honda AUS 42’38.569
2 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 0’03.440
3 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 0’05.051
4 Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 0’05.942
5 Marco Simoncelli Honda ITA 0’07.358
6 Ben Spies Yamaha USA 0’10.468
7 Valentino Rossi Ducati ITA 0’16.431
8 Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 0’26.293
9 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 0’27.416
10 Hiroshi Aoyama Honda JPN 0’28.920
11 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 0’34.539
12 Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 0’34.829
13 Karel Abraham Ducati CZE 0’37.957
Casey Stoner Honda AUS 1’55.366
MotoGP World Standing
Rider Standings After Race 1 of 18
1. Casey Stoner Honda AUS 25
2. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 20
3. Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 16
4. Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 13
5. Marco Simoncelli Honda ITA 11
6. Ben Spies Yamaha USA 10
7. Valentino Rossi Ducati ITA 9
8. Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 8
9. Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 7
10. Hiroshi Aoyama Honda JPN 6
11. Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 5
12. Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 4
13. Karel Abraham Ducati CZE 3
(Casey Stoner, 1/1/2009)
Fastest Lap Ever:
(Jorge Lorenzo, 3/9/2008)
Last Years Winner:
1 Honda 25
2 Yamaha 20
3 Ducati 9
1. Repsol Honda Team 54
2. Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team 30
3. Ducati Marlboro Team 16
4. Monster Yamaha Tech3 13
5. San Carlo Honda Gresini 11
6. Cardion AB Motoracing 3