Casey Stoner’s title defence began in the best fashion possible by winning the historic night race at the Losail Circuit in Qatar by a massive 5.323 seconds.
Rookie of the day award must go to Jorge Lorenzo as the pole man battled hard for a well-deserved second place in his debut MotoGP.
And there will also be celebrations at Tech 3 Yamaha as James Toseland was not just making up the numbers as the third Yamaha in the top six, but put in an enthralling battle all the way with the likes of Stoner and seven-time champion Valentino Rossi.
Dani Pedrosa came through to take the lead going in to the first corner with Britain’s James Toseland following behind his team-mate Colin Edwards in to third.
On the first corner of lap two Rossi showed he’s no slouch form to come through to second but Toseland showed he’s no slouch and fought back, touching wheels with Rossi in the process.
Going in to lap three Toseland lost two places to Rossi and fellow rookie Jorge Lorenzo.
And the Brit lost out to champion Casey Stoner on lap three and with the Aussie on a charge he also took Lorenzo at the beginning of lap four.
Back up front Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa had pulled ahead of Rossi by almost a second.
At the start of lap four Valentino Rossi had clawed back to within 0.377secs of Pedrosa and was all over the back of the Spaniard. Casey Stoner was also under pressure from a Fiat Yamaha as Jorge Lorenzo’s straight speed got the better of the factory Ducati man.
Rossi eventually got the better of Pedrosa before the end of lap five whilst Britain’s James Toseland had lost a place to fellow rookie Andrea Dovizioso and was now in sixth.
Jorge Lorenzo forced Dani Pedrosa out of the way on lap eight which also gave Casey Stoner a chance to use his slipstream speed and push Pedrosa down to fourth.
Casey Stoner then reminded rookie Lorenzo why he’s the champion to slip by and take second. And whilst still in fighting move from gaining second, he pushed past Rossi to take the lead going in to lap nine. Rossi then almost immediately lost second to Lorenzo.
Chris Vermeulen headed to the pit lane on lap 11 with a tyre problem but he did rejoin a lap later.
Casey Stoner put in the best lap of the race on lap 13 with a 1:55.389.
Dani Pedrosa’s straight-line speed got the better of Rossi heading in to lap 15, while Stoner set another fastest lap finishing his 14th lap with a 1:55.153 as he also created a 1.6sec lead from Lorenzo.
Alex de Angelis crashed out on lap 18 and was fortunate not to be hit by his Gresini Honda by the narrowest of margins.
Andrea Dovizioso’s patience paid off on lap 20 as he passed Valentino Rossi. But Rossi, stunned by another rookie fighting with him, put in a performance more suitable of a seven-time champion to grab his fourth place back.
And as the battle continued between the Italian pair, James Toseland joined in and at the crucial moment Dovizioso made his mark in his first MotoGP to take Rossi on the line.
But the celebrations were once again defending champion Casey Stoners as he took the chequered flag a massive 5.323secs ahead of the thrilled Jorge Lorenzo.
Qatar MotoGP race results:
1 Casey STONER AUS Ducati Marlboro Team DUCATI 42'36.587
2 Jorge LORENZO SPA Fiat Yamaha Team YAMAHA 42'41.910
3 Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team HONDA 42'47.187
4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA JiR Team Scot MotoGP HONDA 42'49.875
5 Valentino ROSSI ITA Fiat Yamaha Team YAMAHA 42'49.892
6 James TOSELAND GBR Tech 3 Yamaha YAMAHA 42'50.627
7 Colin EDWARDS USA Tech 3 Yamaha YAMAHA 42'51.737
8 Loris CAPIROSSI ITA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP SUZUKI 43'09.092
9 Randy DE PUNIET FRA LCR Honda MotoGP HONDA 43'09.590
10 Nicky HAYDEN USA Repsol Honda Team HONDA 43'14.941
11 Marco MELANDRI ITA Ducati Marlboro Team DUCATI 43'20.871
12 John HOPKINS USA Kawasaki Racing Team KAWASAKI 43'26.444
13 Shinya NAKANO JPN San Carlo Honda Gresini HONDA 43'26.458
14 Toni ELIAS SPA Alice Team DUCATI 43'35.119
15 Sylvain GUINTOLI FRA Alice Team DUCATI 43'35.517
16 Anthony WEST AUS Kawasaki Racing Team KAWASAKI 43'42.230
17 Chris VERMEULEN AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP SUZUKI 43'11.483 (1 lap)
Alex DE ANGELIS RSM San Carlo Honda Gresini HONDA 31'26.773 (6 laps)