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MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2012

Round 01: Qatar

  • Overview
  • Race Results
  • Qualifying
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April 8, 2012

Honda Dominates the Podium in Qatar

Repsol Honda riders Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner finished the first grand prix of the 1000cc era in second and third place, respectively, in the season-opener under the desert lights of the Losail International Circuit in Qatar. The race was won by Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo.

Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)zoom
Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)
Casey STONER (Repsol Honda Team)zoom
Casey STONER (Repsol Honda Team)

Stoner controlled the race from the third of 22 laps on the 5.380Km desert circuit. He had qualified second with some trepidation about his set-up, but the early laps showed a confident Stoner streaming into the lead.

But by lap 13 his lead began to shrink. Speculation was that it was tyre-related-the new control Bridgestone tyres warm up faster at the expense of durability. In fact it was a rare occurrence of arm pump. The world champion began to have difficulty holding onto the Repsol Honda RC213V, a problem that got progressively worse.

Stoner lost the lead in the final turn 16 on the 19th lap, then Pedrosa made his pass into turn one starting lap 21. Pedrosa chased Lorenzo for the final few laps, but wasn’t able to overtake him.

Still, a two-three finish for the Honda team was a good beginning to the season.

Alvaro Bautista (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC213V) was part of a rousing four-way battle that went to the line. Bautista finished seventh, just behind Nicky Hayden (Ducati) and in front of MotoGP rookie Stefan Bradl. Bautista was the only rider on a prototype to use the softer option Bridgestone rear tyre, which he put to good effect. What held him back was a lack of front end feel and exit speed.

Bradl had a strong race in his debut for the LCR Honda MotoGP team on the track where he won his first Moto2 race last year. In the early going, the 2011 Moto2 World Champion made a strong run to sixth, where he spent the vast majority of the race. It was only in the final stages of the race that the young German was passed by much more experienced riders after he made an improper choice with his brake adjuster. Still, his eighth place was a strong finish for his first MotoGP race and certainly a sign of more to come.

Michele Pirro was not able to show the full potential of the still-teething San Carlo Honda Gresini CRT machine. The Honda CBR1000RR-powered machine, wrapped in an FTR chassis, suffered teething gremlins that sent him to the pits early in the race. The bike had run flawlessly all weekend and what he and the team learned in the race will be put to use next time out in Spain.

It was not long ago that the future of Marc Marquez (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol – Suter) was in doubt. Now it could not be brighter. The young Spaniard who had a magnificent run in last year’s Moto2 World Championship before being sidelined with serious vision problems, won a thrilling last lap battle with Andrea Iannone (Speed Master – Speed Up) to take the opening Moto2 race of 2012.

Marquez’s future had been in doubt since he suffered vision problems as the result of a crash in Malaysia that was not his fault. But the double vision gradually abated and he was among the fastest riders in the final pre-season test.

Today, under the desert lights, he rode a masterfully tactical race, pressuring the leaders from the start before a critical mistake dropped him to fifth seven laps from the end.

Then the real race began, with Marquez working his way through the pack to take third on the following lap, then second with four laps to go.

Now it was a two-man battle with pole-sitter Thomas Luthi (Interwetten-Paddock – Suter), with neither giving an inch. Luthi led to start the final lap and as they braked into turn one Marquez moved to his left and Luthi ran off the track, across the artificial grass and onto the concrete run-off, from where he began his recovery. He would finish fifth.

At the front it was now Marquez in front of Iannone. The Italian made a bold move in the last of three rights near the end of the lap to take the lead. Marquez stayed in his wheel tracks and as they sped down to the checkered flag he perfectly timed his pass to win by .061s. Pol Espargaro (Pons 40 HP Tuenti – Kalex), who had led the most laps, finished third at 1.412s, just ahead of team-mate Esteve Rabat.

Marquez takes the championship lead with 25 points to 20 for Iannone and 16 for Espargaro.

Maverick Vinales (Blusens Avintia – FTR Honda) won the first ever Moto3 race from a determined Romano Fenati (Team Italia FMI – FTR Honda) in the opening race on the Sunday night program.

The battle was a preview of the future of racing. In his first grand prix, the 16-year-old Italian showed poise beyond his years to lead the first five laps while the 17-year-old Vinales looked for openings.

Soon the pair made the race their own and swapped the lead back and forth. Fenati last held it on lap 11, after which Vinales took control for good.

The four-time 2011 GP winner upped the pace on laps 13 and 14, while Fenati began to slow. Still, the young Italian had more than enough to earn a second place finish in his first race as a member of the Italian Federation team which is grooming future world champions.

Miguel Oliveira (Estrella Galicia 0.0 – Suter Honda) was in the middle of the five-rider pack scrapping for the final podium spot. The Portuguese rider was in with a shot to the very end, finishing fifth.

Vinales heads the championship with 25 points, five more than Fenati, with third place finisher Sandro Cortese (KTM) third at 16.

Now the teams have two free weekends before the heart of the European schedule begins at Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, site of the always popular Spanish Grand Prix, on the weekend of April 27-29.

Alvaro BAUTISTA (San Carlo Honda Gresini)zoom
Alvaro BAUTISTA (San Carlo Honda Gresini)
Stefan BRADL (LCR Honda MotoGP)zoom
Stefan BRADL (LCR Honda MotoGP)

MotoGP

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 2nd
“I'm very happy with this result because we have been able to turn around all the problems we had during the weekend. After a good pre-season we got here and everything went wrong; I had flu and a fever, I crashed on Friday, then the qualifying practice was a disaster. So, it's very good to leave here with this podium, even if I feel little bit sad because I thought I could win this race; I had it in my hands for a while. The team did a fantastic job and we saw things very different after warm-up. Then I managed a perfect start which was a key moment in the race, and I was able to stay with Casey and Jorge. In the end, with four laps to go I tried to take the lead, but Lorenzo was cleverer than me this time and choose a better strategy. I passed him but he overtook me immediately and also Casey, then I was behind Casey for one lap and lost contact with Jorge. Anyway, it's a good start to the season and we will try to do better in Jerez.”
Casey Stoner, Repsol Honda: 3rd
“It wasn't really the way we wanted to finish the race weekend here. After FP3 and qualifying it was always going to be a tough race for us, but in the end it came in the wrong areas. The bike was working well for us. I definitely had the package and the pace to lead the field, which was really positive. However, I suffered from really bad arm pump. After three or four laps I felt it but it gradually got worse. I tried to pull a little gap from Jorge and Dani and put in the minimal effort possible to retain the gap and try and win, but as the race continued it got worse and worse and eventually the muscles had nothing more to give. I couldn't hold onto the handlebars properly and it made things really difficult, so it was a disappointing race for this reason, but for many other technical reasons it was very promising.”
Alvaro Bautista, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 7th
“We have finished a problematic weekend in a good way. I have struggled for front feel in practice and then we had another crash on a cold tyre in warm-up. That was a problem for us because we had gone back to the setting from winter testing but only got chance to try it on the sighting lap and warm-up lap. I made a good start and stayed with the group I was in, fighting for sixth to the end and only just missing out. We were still lacking some front feel and a bit of speed in corner exit, which would have helped out in the fight with Hayden. Anyway, I am happy because it is the first race I have finished since Aragon last year so that's important. I have to thank the whole team for working so hard to give me the bike I'm asking for. I have great confidence in them and I am sure we will improve for the next race.”
Stefan Bradl, LCR Honda MotoGP: 8th
“I am very happy and we are doing a good job as all the weekend was very positive for us. My start was perfect but maybe I was a little bit too careful in the first laps but I really could see this is a different category compared to Moto2 and the guys are more clever with the new tyres. I was able to follow the fastest guys, not for the whole race, but I was capable to do my own race quite well. At the end I went in the wrong direction with the brake lever adjuster and this cost us half a second and this is the reason way Hayden, Barbera and Bautista caught me. They are also more experienced than me on used tyres at the end of the race, but overall this is an exciting week end for us. I was also expecting to be more exhausted after 22 laps, but I am OK.”
Michele Pirro, San Carlo Honda Gresini: DNF
“We're still having some teething problems with the bike and it's frustrating for me because I actually got a good start tonight. Lap by lap I started to have problems with the rear wheel and had to come back in. It has been more like a test for us than a race and I'm disappointed because we showed good pace in practice and I think we could have had a good race. But it's a new bike so we have to be patient and trust that better times are ahead.”

Moto2

Marc Marquez, Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol-Suter: Race winner
“It really was a very hard race and I wasn’t expecting a win. My aim for the race was to try and stick with the rest of the riders, but in the end their pace wasn’t as fast as we had expected. This was a hard fought victory and a really beautiful moment. I really appreciate it after the tough winter that we have had. This race was especially tricky because of the difficulty that I had been experiencing in the practice sessions in terms of finding my pace. However, in the race I felt good, was very focused and knew that I had a chance even without being at 100%. It was a surprise to me. There are still many races to go; this is just the first step and we have to take things step by step. This has only just begun.”
Andrea Iannone, Speed Master-Speed Up: 2nd
“This was a tough race. Since the beginning the other riders had a good rhythm and were very fast, but we weren’t too far from them. I managed to stay in the leading group and within the top riders till the end. Marc Marquez was faster and it was difficult to stay behind him, in particular when Marc and Luthi went away. In the last laps I eventually got closer. There was no chance to do any better than this, but we are still taking home a good result. Congratulations to all the riders, they proved to be very fit: it’ll be a great championship.”
Pol Espargaro, Pons 40 HP Tuenti – Kalex: 3rd
“When I saw Luthi, Marc and Andrea I start to go away. I was thinking it was impossible to be here. Finally Luthi was a little bit too much fast in the braking areas and into the corner. But anyway, I’m not quite happy because always when you are here you want to win and I would try it, but we didn’t find that first win in Qatar. But anyway, start with a podium here is so good with my team, to my people, and start to work more for the next step in Jerez.”

Moto3

Maverick Vinales, Blusens Avintia – FTR Honda: Race winner
"I am very satisfied with the job that the team and I did this evening. We have worked really hard for this, above all with the tyres. We always try and work with the race in mind and it went well for us. Ending last season with a win and starting the new season with another is something very important. I think that I had a very consistent race.
I was taking things steadily until I saw Fenati escape -then I had to make a big effort to try and cut the gap. I have to congratulate him for his race as well, because he rode really well."
Romano Fenati, Team Italian FMI – FTR Honda: 2nd
“I was not expecting the podium, but we worked very hard this weekend. The race was good, we fought with Maverick - he's so fast. Now we hope to do our best once again at Jerez.”
Miguel Oliveira, Estrella Galicia 0.0 – Suter Honda: 5th
“I am satisfied. I felt fine physically for the whole race and was putting in a good pace, despite not being able to slipstream anyone. We have some tracks at which slipstreaming is not so important and where we will be able to take advantage of the slower corners –tracks like Jerez and Estoril. We will continue working in the same way, because placing in the top five in race one of the season is a good result. I want to thank my entire team for a great job.”
Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)zoom
Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)
Race Photozoom

MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix
Round 01: Qatar

MotoGP
Rank Rider (Team)
1 Jorge LORENZO (Yamaha Factory Racing)
2 Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)
3 Casey STONER (Repsol Honda Team)
4 Cal CRUTCHLOW (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)
5 Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)
6 Nicky HAYDEN (Ducati Team)
7 Alvaro BAUTISTA (San Carlo Honda Gresini)
8 Stefan BRADL (LCR Honda MotoGP)
9 Hector BARBERA (Pramac Racing Team)
10 Valentino ROSSI (Ducati Team)
11 Ben SPIES (Yamaha Factory Racing)
12 Colin EDWARDS (NGM Mobile Forward Racing)
13 Randy DE PUNIET (Power Electronics Aspar)
14 Yonny HERNANDEZ (Avintia Blusens)
15 Aleix ESPARGARO (Power Electronics Aspar)
Moto2
Rank Rider (Team)
1 Marc MARQUEZ (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol)
2 Andrea IANNONE (Speed Master)
3 Pol ESPARGARO (Pons 40 HP Tuenti)
4 Esteve RABAT (Pons 40 HP Tuenti)
5 Thomas LUTHI (Interwetten-Paddock)
6 Scott REDDING (Marc VDS Racing Team)
7 Mike DI MEGLIO (S / Master Speed Up)
8 Simone CORSI (Came IodaRacing Project)
9 Bradley SMITH (Tech 3 Racing)
10 Mika KALLIO (Marc VDS Racing Team)
11 Randy KRUMMENACHE (GP Team Switzerland)
12 Johann ZARCO (JIR Moto2)
13 Toni ELIAS (Mapfre Aspar Team)
14 Takaaki NAKAGAMI (Italtrans Racing Team)
15 Julian SIMON (Blusens Avintia)
Moto3
Rank Rider (Team)
1 Maverick VINALES (Blusens Avintia)
2 Romano FENATI (Team Italia FMI)
3 Sandro CORTESE (Red Bull KTM Ajo)
4 Luis SALOM (RW Racing GP)
5 Miguel OLIVEIRA (Estrella Galicia 0,0)
6 Zulfahmi KHAIRUDDIN (AirAsia-Sic-Ajo)
7 Arthur SISSIS (Red Bull KTM Ajo)
8 Danny KENT (Red Bull KTM Ajo)
9 Louis ROSSI (Racing Team Germany)
10 Alex RINS (Estrella Galicia 0,0)
11 Alan TECHER (Technomag-CIP-TSR)
12 Hector FAUBEL (Bankia Aspar Team)
13 Niklas AJO (TT Motion Events Racing)
14 Alberto MONCAYO (Bankia Aspar Team)
15 Jakub KORNFEIL (Redox-Ongetta-Centro Seta)

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