Stoner rules Rossi to launch MotoGP title bid

Australian Stoner completed a hat-trick of wins in Qatar to take the opening MotoGP of the season.
Ducati rider Casey Stoner saw off world champion Valentino Rossi to triumph in the delayed first MotoGP race of the season and complete a hat-trick of wins in Qatar.

The curtain-raiser was postponed 24 hours until Monday after torrential rain saw the floodlit race in Qatar called off at the last moment. Stoner was undeterred as he completed his third victory at Losail International circuit, just outside Doha. The Australian started the race — the first since a rule was passed to install Bridgestone as sole tire provider — on pole and had already forged a two-second lead by the end of the first lap. By the end of the race that advantage had increased to seven seconds as 2007 world champion Stoner, who had been fastest in every session at the weekend, led from start to finish. Rossi’s Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo of Spain completed the podium, repeating his third-placed finish at the same venue in 2008. Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s American rider Colin Edwards finished fourth having gained two places from his starting position of sixth. Loris Capirossi came to grief in spectacular style when he crashed with 14 laps left with Edwards challenging him for fifth. He ended up in the gravel, but was able to pick himself up and walk back to the pits.