Spain’s 2010 world champion Jorge Lorenzo, riding a Yamaha, won the season-opening Qatar MotoGP under the Losail floodlights on Sunday to record his first elite class victory at the desert venue.
DOHA: Lorenzo finished ahead of Honda duo, Spain’s Dani Pedrosa and world champion Casey Stoner of Australia, after a roller-coaster of a race.
The Spaniard had started from pole position but lost the lead after three laps to Stoner who looked on course for a fifth victory in the MotoGP class in Qatar.
Stoner maintained his lead until the closing stages of the 22-lap race, but his advantage began to be eaten into by the charging Spanish duo as the Australian’s decision not to test over a full race distance in the winter began to prove costly.
With just over three laps left, Lorenzo snatched the lead and kept his advantage to win by 0.832sec from Pedrosa with Stoner finishing almost three seconds off the pace.
“I put everything I had into attack and I won,” said Lorenzo.
“This victory is because I never gave up, kept pushing and trying. Casey was very strong at the beginning and opened a gap.
“Fortunately for us he struggled at the end and dropped his pace where I could keep mine so I managed to pass him. I am very grateful to Yamaha because they have made a big step this winter.”
Stoner said his pace slowed after he began to suffer from ‘arm pump’, a crippling condition caused by struggling to cope with braking pressure and which causes spasms in the forearm.
“We were by far the fastest out there but after four laps I was started to get real arm pump, my arms were shaking off the bars and I was holding on with two fingers,” said Stoner who had been two seconds ahead at one stage.
“I couldn’t grip and I couldn’t use the brakes. Without that there was no problem to win, we’re really happy with the speed of the bike. I’ve got two weeks to go away and train and we can come back again.”
He added: “I felt like a backmarker at the end, but I couldn’t hold onto the bike, I couldn’t do anything. But if we sort it out, we will be OK.”
Lorenzo was the third Spanish winner of the night.
Maverick Vinales, on a FTR Honda, won the Moto3 race ahead of Italy’s Romano Fenati, also on a FTR Honda, and Germany’s Sandro Cortese, on a KTM.
Compatriot Marc Marquez, on a Suter, won the Moto2 race with Italy’s Andrea Iannone, of the Speed Up team, in second with Spaniard Pol Espargaro, of Kalex, in third.
The second round of the championship takes place at Jerez on April 29.