Saturday, March 10, 2007

Stoner storms to maiden win

Casey Stoner held off 22 laps of intense pressure from Valentino Rossi to take his first Moto GP win at the Qatar Grand Prix.

The 21-year-old Australian made the most of his Ducati's superior straightline speed to hold off the Italian on what was his first race for the Italian squad, triumphing by 2.838 seconds and taking a five-point lead in the championship.

Pole-man Rossi held the lead at the start, followed by Stoner and Toni Elias, but Stoner blasted by the five-time world champion as they crossed the line for the first time, giving notice of his intent to fight for victory.

Rossi's Yamaha was equal to Stoner's Ducati through the twisty section of the track, and it was there where he passed the Australian three times during the race, but was each time undone by his bike's lack of straightline speed, which was 20kph slower than his rival's.

In the end, Stoner made the decisive move on lap 19 when he powered into the lead on the approach to the first corner and then set the fastest lap of the race on the final tour to take victory.

Third was the Repsol Honda of Dani Pedrosa, who made the best of an ill-handling bike to hold off the Suzuki of John Hopkins – who was riding with his hand in bandages following a testing crash.

The pair spent the first half of the race right on the tail of Stoner and Rossi, in what was a six-bike fight for the lead with Loris Capirossi's Ducati and Marco Melandri's Gresini Honda. That battle became five-way when Capirossi binned it on lap seven.

Melandri went backwards through the first half of the race after a bright start, but recovered as his fuel load lessened to pass the Yamaha of the disappointing Colin Edwards for fifth with three laps to go.

Seventh was Chris Vermeulen on the second Suzuki, while world champion Nicky Hayden took a battling eighth on his Repsol Honda – passing Alex Barros' d'Antin Ducati with two laps to go. Shinya Nakano completed the top ten on his Konica Minolta Honda.

It was a disastrous race for Elias though, who was lay third at the first corner. After falling back through the field all afternoon, he took a trip through the gravel after being passed for ninth by Hayden and eventually finished 14th.

At least he finished though, which was more than could be said for Kawasaki's Randy de Puniet, who high-sided out on lap eight and Carlos Checa who slid off his LCR Honda next time round.

Source:- EuroSport