When MotoGP announced that it would be moving from the 800cc formula back to a 1,000cc displacement, the general hope was that this change would return close-racing to the premier class. While the real issue to that problem has always been the increased use of electronics, which have only gained more sophistication and implementation in the past year, there can be no doubt that racing in MotoGP has improved after witnessing the Qatar GP.
Rather than displacement making the decisive difference though, one can thank the new Bridgestone tires, which are designed to degrade more rapidly over the course of their use. This simple change has meant that riders have to manage their tires and pace during the race, choosing when to push for the lead, and when to conserve. As the tires degrade and lose their razor-like precision, a rider’s skill begins to play an increased deciding factor. The result: the Qatar GP.
From the start of the race it was clear that the Qatar GP would be a close race. Breaking away from the pack, Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo, and Dani Pedrosa returned to their old tricks from last season, and made it clear that they were the three riders in contention for the podium positions. The riders’ rank and order would jockey back and forth, with great racing and passes ensuing from those battles. Though the Qatar GP looked to be Casey Stoner’s race, Jorge Lorenzo put on a great late-race charge while holding off a surging Dan Pedrosa. Owning the final laps, the Yamaha rider bested his Honda rivals to triumphant finish.
The day was a good showing for Yamaha, as battling for fourth position were the two Monster Yamaha Tech 3 riders: Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow. With the Italian leading in the beginning, Crutchlow made his move mid-race, and passed his teammate. With his front-row start, Crutchlow had much to show for his weekend in Qatar, and showed that Dovi might not be the top rider in the Tech 3 garage as many had thought.
All this left Nicky Hayden to carry the banner for the Ducati, as the American rode to a well-earned sixth place result, while his teammate Valentino Rossi languished 11th for most of the race — the very last of the prototype riders. Able to claw back a position from Ben Spies, who was suffering from severe chatter on his Yamaha YZR-M1, Rossi’s result was a shock to the whole field. The best of the CRTs, Colin Edwards nearly had fellow Texan Spies in his sights, needing only another lap or two to claim his first prototype scalp. With only James Ellison coming close to being lapped, the performance of the CRTs was higher than expected, though perhaps still not the solution MotoGP is looking for.
The 2012 MotoGP Championship season continues on April 29th, as the paddock heads to Jerez for its first of many Spanish Grand Prixs.
Race Results from the Qatar GP at Doha, Qatar:
|1||Jorge LORENZO||SPA||Yamaha Factory Racing||Yamaha||42’44.214|
|2||Dani PEDROSA||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||+0.852|
|3||Casey STONER||AUS||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||+2.908|
|4||Cal CRUTCHLOW||GBR||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||+17.114|
|5||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||ITA||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||+17.420|
|6||Nicky HAYDEN||USA||Ducati Team||Ducati||+28.413|
|7||Alvaro BAUTISTA||SPA||San Carlo Honda Gresini||Honda||+28.446|
|8||Stefan BRADL||GER||LCR Honda MotoGP||Honda||+29.464|
|9||Hector BARBERA||SPA||Pramac Racing Team||Ducati||+31.384|
|10||Valentino ROSSI||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||+33.665|
|11||Ben SPIES||USA||Yamaha Factory Racing||Yamaha||+56.907|
|12||Colin EDWARDS||USA||NGM Mobile Forward Racing||Suter||+58.088|
|13||Randy DE PUNIET||FRA||Power Electronics Aspar||ART||+1’10.650|
|14||Yonny HERNANDEZ||COL||Avintia Blusens||BQR-FTR||+1’15.943|
|15||Aleix ESPARGARO||SPA||Power Electronics Aspar||ART||+1’26.733|
|16||Ivan SILVA||SPA||Avintia Blusens||BQR-FTR||+1’43.327|
|17||Mattia PASINI||ITA||Speed Master||ART||+1’47.419|
|18||James ELLISON||GBR||Paul Bird Motorsport||ART||+1’51.882|
|Michele PIRRO||ITA||San Carlo Honda Gresini||FTR||7 Laps|
|Danilo PETRUCCI||ITA||Came IodaRacing Project||Ioda||7 Laps|
|Karel ABRAHAM||CZE||Cardion AB Motoracing||Ducati||15 Laps|
Source: MotoGP; Photo: © 2012 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved