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Rossi off to winning start in thrilling Qatar opener

Rossi off to winning start in thrilling Qatar opener

The World Champion started his title defence in 2010 with victory as Stoner crashed out, in a gripping race that saw Lorenzo join him on the podium. Dovizioso edged out Hayden for a dramatic third place.

The five-month wait for the start of the 2010 MotoGP World Championship came to an end on Sunday evening at the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar, and an eventful opening race at Losail did not let fans down as Valentino Rossi took victory, with Jorge Lorenzo making it a Fiat Yamaha one-two and Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) taking third.

An exciting start saw Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) shoot up from seventh on the grid to lead the field into Turn One, and as the opening laps unfolded the Spaniard, Rossi, poleman Casey Stoner (Ducati Marlboro) and his team-mate Nicky Hayden commenced a battle at the front.

A difficult weekend ended in grave disappointment for Mika Kallio (Pramac Racing) as he crashed out early on, and as the action on the track continued to develop there was to be another Ducati to suffer a premature end to its race. This time it was the factory Desmosedici GP10 of Stoner, who lost the front of his bike going into Turn Four on the sixth lap when in the lead, dramatically ending his participation after he had been the huge favourite to take victory at the circuit for the fourth successive year.

That elevated Rossi to first place, with Dovizioso and Hayden behind him in hot pursuit. Rossi’s Fiat Yamaha team-mate Lorenzo also started to climb, moving up to fourth at the midway point of the race. Pramac Racing’s remaining rider Aleix Espargaró was forced to retire after becoming the third rider to fall.

With the excitement building, Dovizioso started to challenge Rossi and at one point took the lead from the World Champion, only to see it reclaimed. Hayden then swapped places with Dovizioso as the pair intensified their fight for second and third position respectively.

Lorenzo made his move and went through on Hayden before passing Dovizioso as well to move into second position as the riders entered the final lap, which delivered a grandstand finish in the battle for the final podium position.

As Rossi crossed the line with just over a full second of an advantage on the rest of the field, Lorenzo took second as he showed little sign of the hand injury that had placed a question mark over his fitness. Dovizioso claimed third in a sprint for the line as he held off Hayden by 0.011s.

Ben Spies (Monster Yamaha Tech3) was the highest finishing rookie with a superb fifth-placed finish having started in 11th place on the grid, as Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) and Pedrosa took sixth and seventh place respectively.

Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech3), Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki) – in his 300th Grand Prix start – and Hiroshi Aoyama (Interwetten Honda MotoGP) all secured top-ten finishes, with Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini Team), Héctor Barberá (Páginas Amarillas Aspar) and Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini Team) completing the 13 finishing riders.

Rookie Álvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) suffered heartbreak on his premier class debut, crashing out late in the race when in 13th place having held his own for much of the contest.


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