Jorge Lorenzo took his first premier class victory at the Losail International Circuit to open the 2012 MotoGP™ season in the best possible manner, after battling reigning World Champion Casey Stoner and the Australian’s Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa for the duration of the 22-lap race. It was also a superb start to the new 1000cc era in MotoGP, as the CRT machines also made their debut in an action-packed race.
Starting from pole for the first time since the US Grand Prix last July, Lorenzo held the lead until the third lap before Stoner assumed first position with a pass on the start/finish straight. Lorenzo then followed Stoner for the majority of the race before passing his rival with three laps to go, and he eventually crossed the line 0.852s ahead of Pedrosa who placed second as Stoner ended the race third.
After a difficult weekend which had seen Pedrosa qualify in seventh the Spaniard shot from row three of the grid into third position on the opening lap, and on lap 20 passed his team-mate Stoner with a superb move on the brakes going into Turn 1 to take second. Stoner, who had won in Qatar for four of the past five seasons, took his 16th successive podium finish as he got his title defence underway.
With the leading trio involved in an eye-catching contest for the podium positions at the front, an excellent duel between Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team-mates Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso played out in their wake. The Italian, in his first race on the M1, was in front with his British team-mate all over his exhaust until lap 17, when Crutchlow got past Dovizioso and held out for fourth to equal his best-ever MotoGP result.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) was the highest placing Desmosedici, beating Álvaro Bautista (San Carlo Honda Gresini) to sixth by just 0.033s on the Spaniard’s debut with the team, and 2011 Moto2 World Champion Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda) capped an impressive debut MotoGP ride with eighth place.
Héctor Barberá (Pramac Racing) had been in the hunt for sixth but ran off when he pushed too hard in the closing stages and the Spaniard finished ninth, and the final spot in the top 10 went to Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) who had appeared to be struggling with his Desmosedici GP12 in the early stages of the race.
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Ben Spies ended the race in 11th, whilst the honour of the highest placing CRT went to Colin Edwards (NGM Mobile Forward Racing Team). The American held off the challenge of Randy de Puniet (Power Electronics Aspar) to place his BMW-Suter 12th, with Yonny Hernández (Avintia Racing MotoGP) and Aleix Espargaró (Power Electronics Aspar) taking the last points on offer.
Karel Abraham (Cardion ab Motoracing), Danilo Petrucci (Came Iodaracing Project) and Michele Pirro (San Carlo Honda Gresini) all suffered the disappointment of not finishing the race.
The MotoGP class returns to action in just under three weeks, for the Gran Premio bwin de España at Jerez, which takes place from April 27-29.