April 14 ’09 : Dovizioso Fifth in Repsol Honda Debut

Published by IR Date posted on April 15, 2009

Former World Champion Casey Stoner (Ducati) won the rain-delayed Qatar Grand Prix by speeding from the pole position to the checkered flag on a warm night in the desert east of Doha.

The win was his third in a row on the Losail International Circuit and the first under the new racing regulations that include control tires and limited practice and qualifying. None of which seemed to bother the 23-year-old Australian.

Stoner sped away at the start, built a comfortable lead in the early going, then rebuffed a mid-race attack by Valentino Rossi (Yamaha). From the 11th lap to the end of the 22-lap affair, Stoner steadily built his lead to a margin of victory of 7.771 seconds. Rossi’s teammate Jorge Lorenzo was third. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) came home in fourth just ahead
of Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda).

Stoner had to wait a day to notch his third consecutive win. Rare torrential rains just as the MotoGP field was about to start its warm-up lap on Sunday night forced the postponement of the race to Monday night. The only time anyone could remember this ever happening to the senior class was in the 1960’s when the 500cc GP on the Isle of Man was delayed a day by “fog on the mountain.”

Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso nearly equaled his stunning premier class debut from 2008 by finishing fifth. Dovi had moved into third on the fourth lap before front end issues that affected much of the 18-rider
field also slowed his drive. The problem had never arisen during practice and qualifying, so the young Italian had some on the job learning. But he managed it well and gained valuable experience. Unfortunately, on lap 14
he was dropped one spot by Colin Edwards (Yamaha), but he’d still finish as the top Honda rider.

San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Alex De Angelis made a late run at Dovi and closed to within 1.6 seconds at the stripe. The excitement in his race came on the 11th lap when he made contact with Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa as the pair went side-by-side through a left-hand corner. De Angelis ran wide, slamming into Pedrosa’s left side and leg, which had recently been surgically repaired. Pedrosa slid off the left side of the saddle as his RC212V skated along the rumble strips, but somehow the gritty Spaniard managed to stay upright.

The controversial pass put De Angelis in seventh and two laps later he would steal sixth from Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki).

Teammate Toni Elias gave the San Carlo Honda Gresini squad a double top ten finish by taking ninth. But the Spaniard wanted more in his return to the team he last rode for in 2007, especially since he was racing a factory supported Honda RC212V. It hadn’t been an easy weekend for Elias, who now looks forward to better things at the following grand prix in Motegi, Japan in two weeks.

Elias was the first of three Hondas to finish in order. Behind came LCR Honda’s Randy de Puniet and Pedrosa. De Puniet battled a front tire grip problem that slowed him early on and he could finish no better than tenth.

Scot Racing Team MotoGP’s Yuki Takahashi scored a point in his MotoGP debut. The former 250cc campaigner treated his first race like a master class, learning from the rest of the more experienced field. Mostly he
learned about dealing with the front end and braking in what was his longest ever ride on a GP machine.

The second running of the night-time race was a success, even if the MotoGP world had to wait a day. The World Championship order is as per race order after only one race.

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