|— MotoGP Quotes
Casey Stoner, Winner – “I’m so pleased with this victory because it is fruit of the hard work done by everybody at Ducati over the winter. It has been difficult to work in such short sessions here this weekend and going into the race last night we took a gamble with a setting change that we weren’t sure about, but we got the opportunity to try it in warm-up and it felt great, so thank you to the team that worked really hard during the whole weekend. That gave me more confidence ahead of the race. We knew this circuit is demanding for fuel consumption and I had to adapt my style a little to keep the pace up and hold the advantage over Valentino but finally we didn’t have problems at all with it. My wrist felt 100% tonight but I still need to work on my overall fitness after the down time over the winter and I’m sure we can keep progressing.”
Valentino Rossi, 2nd – “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, 3rd – “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.”
Andrea Dovizioso, 5th – “I didn’t start well but I was able to overtake some riders and get into third position. During the first three laps the machine was performing really well – as it had during practice – and I tried to keep in contact with Valentino, but then I started struggling with the front. It was folding entering the corners and, later, also mid-corner, so I couldn’t turn as I would have liked. I had to slow down and compensate by turning with the rear tyre. We never had this issue during practice or the pre-season tests, so we need to understand what happened and do some more work to adapt the machine to the tyres. It was a very hard fight today, and I’m satisfied that we learned a lot here in practice and during the race. Now we’ll analyze the data and work hard for the next one in Japan.”
Alex de Angelis, 6th – “I’m so happy with this result because I think we deserve it after working so hard this weekend. I didn’t get a great start but I knew my pace was okay so I just tried to stay calm, pass as many people as possible and make up positions. We knew the podium was out of reach for us here but I always felt we were capable of a top result and sixth place falls into that category. I was called up to Race Direction to put forward my version of the collision with Dani but there was no complaint against me so it wasn’t a big deal. This is just the start and even though we know this circuit suits my style of riding and my package, our aim is to be consistent and keep scoring results like this one. ”
Chris Vermeulen, 7th – “I made a good start and got into a good group of guys straight away and I was hoping to stay there. The track conditions were a bit different to what it had been all weekend and it was very different to the test which was how I had the bike set-up, and to be honest I really struggled for front-end feeling. Towards the end of the race the rear tyre performance dropped off as well so that’s something we’ve really got to work on. It’s hard though with the lack of testing in race conditions and also on race weekend’s with the sessions being shorter and there being less of them, it makes it very difficult to put race distance on the tyres and to iron out any other problems. It was not the result we wanted because we were hoping to be in the top-five. We have got quite a bit of work to do to catch up to the podium so we need to put our thinking caps on and go to Motegi and have a better performance!”
Toni Elias, 9th – “Taking into account where we started from and the problems we had this weekend, this is a decent result for us and I’m satisfied. In terms of points it probably would have been better for us if the race was cancelled here because we knew it would be tough for us but the truth is that if you had offered me ninth place on Friday, I probably would have taken it! We know we have work to do and we know exactly where our problems are, so we’ll work together with Honda to try and fix them as much as possible before the next race in Japan.”
Randy De Puniet, 10th – “I am a bit disappointed because I expected a better result after my performances in the practice sessions. I made a good start and after that I thought that the race was easy for me. But suddenly I started to suffer grip problems on my front tyre. It was a bit dangerous and did my best to manage the race like this. It’s strange as I did not have this feeling during the whole week end and it was like riding on a soft tyre. My target was the top ten but I could get a better result in different conditions. Anyway we will analyse the data to be more competitive in Japan”.
Dani Pedrosa, 11th – “Overall I’m happy because of my progress over the weekend. I improved in every session and I’m glad to have come here and scored five points – though I’m also slightly disappointed because it could even have been ten or eleven. I got a good start and the race was going very well at the beginning. After seven or eight laps, though, I had started to get some vibration with the front wheel which became more severe as the race progressed. I started to lose grip at the front and my lap times suffered, so we’ll have to check what the issue was. I also suffered a lot physically in the race, and de Angelis gave me a big hit mid-race. The collision was avoidable I think because he could have passed me cleanly. My knee was giving me a lot of pain by the end and my left arm was pretty tired too. Still, we came away having completed the race and with a few points, which was our target, so I’m happy.”
Nicky Hayden, 12th – “It’s been a tough weekend and we’ve had a lot of issues – obviously a 130mph high-side doesn’t help things but nothing really went smooth. In the beginning of the race I was quite slow, I didn’t get a great start but actually as the fuel load changed and I got a better feeling I got faster and faster and the last five or six laps were my fastest of the whole weekend. It would have been nice to nick Dani at the end there but I think the team have showed that even though a lot of stuff has gone against us this weekend we’re not going to give up. Hopefully the bad stuff is behind us now and Casey has shown the potential of the bike, so crazy as it sounds I’m leaving here in a really positive mood and looking forward to Motegi.”
Yuki Takahashi, 15th – “The best came at the end, when I had a chance to follow Marco Melandri for a long while. I studied him, and I got a lot of information about how to deal with the front tyre and about braking points. Don’t forget that this is my first race in the MotoGP class.
Not only that, but I never did a long run before. I’m satisfied. My target was learning the bike and how to compete against the best riders in the world. How to deal in the heat of the first laps, and strategies, and tactics. At the beginning I lost a little time, but I did not want to make any silly mistake. And at the end I was able to keep the same pace of the riders who were in the first groups. And now, let’s prepare for my home race, in 13 days, in Japan.”
Loris Capirossi, DNF – “I feel really sorry for the whole team, because all winter we have worked so hard and have gone quite well so this was hard to take. It was really strange today because our practice has been good, but in this evening’s warm-up I had a big problem with chatter, this hadn’t happened all weekend and then during the race it was the same. The front tyre didn’t work like normal either, I had done 25 to 30 laps on the same tyre with no problems and the feeling had always been good, but today after just five laps it felt like it was destroyed! This race is over now and we have to concentrate on the next one and find out why the things that happened today occurred.”
— 250cc Race
A dramatic, shortened 250cc contest ended with Héctor Barberá taking maximum points on his debut with the Pepe World Team, the Spaniard making an amazing comeback following a back injury in Japan last year which cut short his season.
The start of the race was delayed due to rain and shortened to 13 laps with the intention of running the MotoGP race in its scheduled 11pm slot.
Once it did start Barberá got away well from fourth on the grid and battled for the lead with surprise package Jules Cluzel (Matteoni Racing). Barberá eventually came out on top but Cluzel joined him on the podium for the first time in his career after a great race from 13th on the grid.
Completing the podium was Cluzel’s compatriot Mike di Meglio (Mapfre Aspar), the 125cc World Champion enjoying a brilliant 250cc debut and securing third place on the last lap. The top six also featured Hiroshi Aoyama (Scot Racing Team), Raffaele de Rosa (Scot Racing Team) and Thomas Luthi (Emmi-Caffe Latte) who all finished within half a second of Di Meglio.
Just behind that group was poleman and title candidate Álvaro Bautista (Mapfre Aspar) who could not recover from being clipped on the first corner and failed to take advantage of the absence of injured World Champion Marco Simoncelli.
— 125cc Race
Just four laps into the 125cc race a rain shower at the desert track interrupted proceedings, with leader Andrea Iannone declared as the winner after a restart was ruled out.
Italian Ongetta I.S.P.A. Team Iannone rider got away from third on the grid and battled over the four laps with Bancaja Aspar’s Julián Simón, who was second when the red flag came out. The riders were awarded half points in the World Championship standings due to the short duration of the race, meaning that Iannone left Qatar with 12.5 points whilst Simón took home 10.
Completing the podium was Ajo Interwetten’s Sandro Cortese, who started fifth and had made it up to third before the rain entered the equation. Also in the top five were Pol Espargaró and Bradley Smith.
Valentino Rossi and Loris Capirossi joined Race Direction delegates who went out to inspect the track to see if the race could be restarted, but the surface was deemed too wet to allow further 125cc racing to take place. According to the record books it was therefore the shortest ever race in the history of the World Championship.