Casey Stoner began the 2008 MotoGP season the same way he did his championship 2007 campaign: with a win at the Grand Prix of Qatar.
Stoner rode his Ducati 848 to victory under the bright lights of the historic first ever MotoGP night race, fending off a pack of Yamaha and Honda racers with a time of 42 minutes 36.587 seconds.
“That was a fantastic race and I really enjoyed it—it was like being back in 125s,” says Stoner. “Over the first few laps I was struggling a bit for grip but then the tires got up to temperature and improved. We knew we had a pretty good package for the race but obviously we couldn’t be sure that things would go as well as that.”
Fiat Yamaha team rider Jorge Lorenzo, in his MotoGP debut after winning the 250cc title last year, finished in second with a time of 42:41.910.
“For sure I couldn’t have expected a better debut than this and I am very, very excited to be on the podium. Second place is an amazing result for me and I had great fun,” says Lorenzo. “The start and first few laps were a bit crazy and really a bit of a scary time for me, but anyway I managed to make it through and get past some riders to get to second.”
Though he gave Stoner a stiff challenge, Lorenzo says that it came down to stamina in the end.
“I started to go with Stoner but after a while I became very tired and I started to have a lot of pressure and pain in my arms, so I really couldn't push any more,” says Lorenzo. “Anyway, he was faster than us and I want to say congratulations to him because he deserved to win.”
Honda racer Dani Pedrosa finished in third to round out the podium, followed by teammate Andrea Dovizioso who nosed out Yamaha's Valentino Rossi by just 0.017 seconds.