MotoGP: The Rebirth of Racing at the Qatar GP

04/08/2012 @ 7:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

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:

Pos. Rider Nation Team Bike Time
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
Not Classified
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

  • SBPilot

    Rebirth of racing is far fetched for the MotoGP race. It was pretty boring. Look at the finishing gap times, massive. Perhaps through the season it’ll become closer, but a 3 bike breakaway at the front and a bunch of spearate groups isn’t much a race. I’m quite impressed by Bradl, I think he was fatigued more than the tire life and just wanted to bring her home. The CRTs I hope can become closer to the front soon, it’s like they are running their own race. Edwards closing up on Spies purely due to Spies having major problems, but so nice to see Edwards so far ahead of the other CRTs

    Moto2 on the other hand is where racing really happened, that got my heart going and I was glued and so happy Marquez sealed that win. He is a riding god to win the first race with next to no testing due to his eye injury. That race was intense and they were millimeters from each other from start to finish.

  • ML

    Looks like there are only 3 aliens left. Great job for Cal coming in 4th but at near 30 seconds behind the winner, its meaningless…

    Rossi, what can be said… no more excuses. Its not just the bike, its him as well. When he was at yamaha along with JL, he was showing his ‘age’ as the younger team mate was starting to dominate him on the same machine.

    Its clear that the next generation of elite riders are here and headed towards their prime, while its becoming more and more apparent that Rossi is on his way down and out of the sport.

    He is a legend but nothing sadly lasts forever…

  • Iannone

    Moto2 Race is far far more exciting than that motogp one. the winner is decidied till the last couple of laps and there are more than 5 riders capable of winning the race at least in every race. not like that in motogp where only the three aliens are fighting for the win. Rossi? he should hang his helmet as soon as possible before he keeps making many more negative records in his motogp career. his winless streak is getting longer and longer.

  • Bryan

    …and having started mouthing off at the Ducati factory about not sorting it the way he wanted isn’t going to win Rossi any friends. You can’t say the bike is crap when all other Ducati riders were quicker than you. Bad for the brand, the team, and for racing ATM. Don’t appreciate the stab at Barbera either as the great move Barbera put on him was reminiscent of the countless moves Rossi has put on each and every competitor he has come up against. Losing respect.

    The race was far more exciting with new riders, CRT, and satellite bikes up there in the mix (tho not for the win). Bradl, Cal, Colin, Barbera, impressed. Look forward to Jerez.

  • jason jungreis

    can someone provide a useful definition of “chatter” and particularly the cause (which Stoner and others have said has to do with the electronics)? It would seem to me that it is the front tire quickly pounding up and down or skittering sideways during a corner, but if that is so I don’t see how the electronics could have much to do with it — unless during acceleration there are sensors measuring the slip angle of the front wheel (and/or the front suspension unloads) and back off the gas during slip, then the front wheel corrects (i.e., the front suspension loads) and so you go back on the gas, and the cycle quickly repeats and reinforces itself. Obviously this would be a middle-to-exit cornering issue and not an issue either on the brakes or coasting toward transition to the gas. Is that right?

  • WetMan

    What we are witnessing this year in MotoGP are essentially two championships fought for on the same track during the same time. And likely at the end the champions will be Stoner and Edwards.
    It is a great achievement of the CRT riders not to have been lapped, but the hole is still half a minute and during the season it will get larger not smaller.
    To call the other bikes ‘prototypes’ has to be tongue-in-cheek. A prototype is something you plan to put to market. These alien craft contain a lot of technology that will never be used on a normal streetbike. Might as well call the space shuttle a prototype.

  • misterminor

    +1 WetMan.
    It is really 2 championships.. And to me it’s almost official when Edwards, as the fastest CRT rider, gets to park his bike next to the 3 fastest bikes after the qualifying session and he was asked to do it again after the race I think.. that’s not normal after you qualified as no. 13..
    But maybe that’s the only way a CTR bikes and the team sponsors gets any TV-time. During the race I think I saw Edwards once. Twice if crossing the finish-line counts. If the CRT sponsors only get their bikes in TV if it crashes during the race or it’s the fastest qualifying CRT bike, then I’m having a hard time seeing CRT as the future for MotoGP.. The TV producers have to give them more TV-time if they’re going to attract bigger sponsors, so they can get closer to the factorybikes.
    Yesterday the TV producers had enough to do with showing the Stoner/Pedrosa/Lorenzo battle os we didn’t got to see Crutchlow overtaking Dovi.. or Haydens first attempt to overtake Bradl and as a result dropping down 2 places.. and most of his battle to get back ahead didn’t air as well.. So with 3 battles during a race almost being too much for TV.. how can the sponsors ever get to see their CTR bikes in the TV during this season..?
    Yesterday they just filled up the grid and after the lights went out you didn’t notice them.

  • JS

    ML says that Cal finishing fourth is meaningless.

    That has to be one of the most stupid comments I’ve come across on this site. To get fourth after battling his way from eigth after a poor start and beating his more experienced teammate and setting the second quickest lap of the race. No ML Cal’s result was far from meaningless.

  • Pooch

    Agree, to get 4th in motogp is far from meaningless, stupid comment.

    People posting here that there are two championships ie crt and Protos…. Well duh! All winter long that was obvious from their times in testing. The race brought no surprises.

    Marquez’ hard move on Luthi will no doubt be argued about for a while….

  • They need to find a way to get the CRT teams higher up on the grid. is it possible yo give them more horsepower? They might be maxed out already. Bigger tires? I don’t really know, but if this is the way all this season’s races are going to run, I would think it would be a failure, remembering the purpose was to get more bikes on the grid.

  • BBQdog

    The Moto2 race proofs the finishline should not be that far away from the last corner that one can win a race by slipstreaming. Qatar is a bad example. Assen is much better, the finish line not too far away from the very fast lefthander followed by the final chicane.

  • JW

    I miss Marco..

  • Westward

    Moto2 yet again, the most exciting racing in the world…

    I miss 58 too…

  • Westward

    @ ML

    It’s easy to dominate, when your main competition is recovering from a broken leg and still racing with a damaged shoulder.

    But then again, if Lorenzo was really dominating, then he would not have lost out to Rossi at Motegi for the final rostrum spot, nor let Rossi win at Sepang…

    A healthy Rossi on a Yamaha is still championship contender, if not the Champion…

  • ML


    Hah, I think you took my comment the wrong way. Yes, Cal did amazing during the race, even beating a factory yamaha, let alone the rest of the field which included previous world champions. I, in no way, am implying Cal did not do a great job nor earned his position. Not at all.

    However, “meaningless” in the sense that there’s such a huge gap in time and distance between the top three elite riders and the rest of the field that its kinda disappointing from a spectators perspective.

    Its as if there are two different races going on at the same time–the main race being between the three aliens and a race with everyone else (maybe three if you isolate the CRTs). When the battle for the win is between the small number of usual suspects, race after race, it gets kinda boring.

    Anyway, back to my point… if you look at Cal’s position from a pure rankings standpoint, then yeah, 4’th place would suggest that he was right up there in performance along with the first 3 positions. But if you really look at the data, its clear the 4’th place finish was no where near the winners. Not even close! 15 seconds between positions is such a huge difference in racing… Thats all I was implying.

  • ML


    Maybe you’re right… but from what I saw overall, JL was winning more and scoring more points on the Yamaha than Rossi. Sure, Rossi did have injuries, but JL did too during his time along side Rossi.

    Maybe we’ll see Rossi back on a yamaha or honda (factory or satellite) soon enough. Then we’ll know.

  • From reading comments, I sometimes think that people have short memories. For years upon years, the premier class always featured races within races. Lapped riders almost always were featured, which could make for some interesting/problematic moments for leaders and/or race direction. This season with the CRT bikes only brings that back from “recent memory” to the present.

    Personally, I thought the CRT bikes represented well. They’re suffering from a lack of development time compared to the factories. I suspect you’ll see them ever-so-slightly reeling in the satellite teams over the season and from next year, we’ll see some even closer racing.

    I agree that Moto2 offers the most exciting racing, but some of the comments I’ve seen over the last few months seem to want it both ways. In other words, they want 21 bikes capable of being on the podium while NOT having privateer efforts. Uhm, AC/DC anybody? It’s great to want everybody on equal footing, but then to bemoan the CRT effort seems to entirely miss the point. Moto2 itself is pretty 100% “CRT”.

    Personally, I’d like to see less emphasis on electronics. I love watching the Moto2 bikes backing into the corners and really miss that in the premier class. CRT bikes are a good start to giving us better racing, but limiting the role electronics can play would make it just that much better. IMO, YMMV, etc.

  • david

    it’s clear rossi just doesn’t get on with the ducati; no harm in that, it’s important a rider find a bike he gels with, even the great rossi. they should terminate the relationship sooner rather than later, it only harms them both. to be honest though, I don’t see rossi ever beating stoner or lorenzo ever again..and marquez’s pass on luthi was just dangerous and contemptuous, something not quite right with that boy, think he would have learned last year after his incident involving rathapark willarot..

  • tonestar

    all hail world superbikes!

    can we imagine anyone in the “premier” class doing what old assed biaggi did in round one, race two? has to go from last and ends up second. amazing…

    btw, i picked up a 2012 ducati promo book from a dealer couple days ago- guess whose on the cover? it ain’t vale or nicki! maybe ducati should give up motogp and go back to a factory team in wsbk? yamaha could re-join them and get the tornado back where he belongs too.

  • JS

    Ok then ML.

    But i think the gap back to Cal was more to do with Cal not wanting to risk taking himself out along with his teammate with a tough pass, especially with it being the first race of the year. I think if it was anyone but his teammate Cal would’ve put a pass in much sooner and been much closer to the front.

    We”ll find out soon enough if Cal really has raised his game or if that result was a flash in the pan. Dovi is a perfect teammate for Cal this year – Dovi wants a works ride and to do that he must beat Cal, and Cal wants to remain in MotoGP so he must beat Dovi. The battle between those two could be more intense than the battle for the championship.

    I’m looking forward to it.

  • Westward

    @ ML

    The only time Lorenzo won more or scored more was the year Rossi was hurt. Sure Lorenzo raced hurt too in the past, but ankle fractures and fingers, are not the same as shoulder injuries. I’m not even counting Rossi’s leg injury, like he said, it’s not like he is running and kicking a ball. If anyone has more of a case for racing while injured, it’s Pedrosa and his often times shattered collarbone.

    Lorenzo had a dream season in 2010, he was a champion of circumstances. His biggest rivals were either injured (Rossi & Pedrosa) or their bikes had issues (Stoner). Even Du Puniet was becoming a threat until he broke his leg.

    Notice, last season, Lorenzo only won three times (per usual), he was healthy, and still had a relatively competitive machine. Had Pedrosa not needed surgery on his arm after Qatar, or he not hurt his collarbone again at La Mans, he could have finished better than Lorenzo and even Stoner might have won less.

    Needless to say, Rossi on a Ducati, seems to benefit everyone save for Rossi himself…

  • jzj

    For those interested in “chatter,” look at the 24-second mark of this Yamaha video of Spies at Qatar: