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.
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.
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.
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.
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 eye
2011 MotoGP Qatar
Losail Circuit 20/03/2011
Race I – 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
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
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