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Stoner edges Rossi in first battle of the season

Latest update : 2009-04-14

2007 champion Casey Stoner (Ducati) won the first event of the season at the Grand Prix of Qatar. The Australian was followed by Italian Valentino Rossi and Spanish team mate Jorge Lorenzo. Next GP will take place April 26 in Japan.

AFP - Australia's 2007 World MotoGP champion Casey Stoner won his third successive Qatar Grand Prix here on Monday in a race that had to be held over from Sunday because of heavy rain.

Stoner eased home on his Ducati ahead of 2008 reigning champion Valentino Rossi of Italy who was second on a Yamaha while Rossi's team-mate Jorge Lorenzo of Spain was third.

Stoner led from the start with Rossi dropping back to third, though the latter's compatriot Marco Melandri paid for trying to overdo it at the corner of the home straight after the first lap and ended up ploughing into the dirt.

He rejoined the race but found himself at the back of the 18 rider field.

Rossi moved into second with 20 laps remaining and with a two second deficit on Stoner.

The Australian managed to keep it around the two second mark for the next three laps while the duo of Italy's Andrea Dovizioso and Lorenzo had their own duel for third and were a further second adrift.

Loris Capirossi came to grief in spectacular fashion with 14 laps remaining as with Colin Edwards challenging him for fifth spot he crashed and bounced several metres into the gravel - picking himself up gingerly to walk back to the pits.

Rossi brought the gap between him and Stoner down below the two second mark for the first time after nine laps of the 22 as the duo looked to have put enough distance between themselves and the rest of the field.

Indeed with 12 laps remaining Rossi in second had an eight second advantage over third-placed Lorenzo but Stoner was not allowing the vibrant Italian to close any further on him and with 10 laps to go he had almost a three second lead over him.

He was up by three second with seven laps remaining and Rossi seemed powerless to do anything to reduce it but the Italian known as 'The Doctor' was safe and sound in his runner-up spot as Lorenzo was well back nearly 15 seconds adrift.

From then on Stoner had no problems in extending his overall lead as with three laps remaining it stood at over five seconds and he cantered home to victory to land the first blow of what promises to be a thrilling battle for the title.
 

Date created : 2009-04-13

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