MotoGP: A New Order of Things During Qualifying at Qatar

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The return of MotoGP racing is finally upon us with the start of the Qatar GP. Qualifying was underway under the night’s sky at Losail International Circuit this Satursday, as the season-opener and only night race brought the MotoGP paddock together to begin the 2012 MotoGP Championship. With Losail’s long straightaway amplifying the slower pace of the CRTs, it is clear that two races will be run during the MotoGP race on Sunday. With the Yamahas showing a new speed in Qatar, the talk going into Saturday’s qualifying at Doha for once was not dominated by the work of HRC.

For the first time since 2008, Casey Stoner was not the man on the pole position after the Qatar GP’s qualifying session. Instead on-track rival Jorge Lorenzo will take the front spot, followed by Stoner and surprise front-row qualifier Cal Crutchlow. Starting on the second row is Ben Spies, who would have qualified up near Lorenzo had he not crashed his Yamaha YZR-M1 in the closing minutes, and been dragged by the cuff of his glove — fortunately the Texan was not injured from the incident.

Leading the charge for Ducati was Nicky Hayden, while Valentino Rossi lapped as the slowest prototype rider on his factory Ducati Desmosedici GP12, though The Doctor was the fastest rider down the front straight. Noticeably off the pace was Dani Pedrosa who battled with his #2 bike after his #1 bike suffered electrical problems on Friday. Meanwhile lurking behind his teammate’s shadow was Andrea Dovizioso, who is still coming to terms with his switch from a factory Honda to a satellite Yamaha. With the Aprilia ART bikes all to going down in Turn 2 at some point during the session, Colin Edwards and his BMW/Suter was left as the top CRT bike at Qatar.

Going into tomorrow’s race, the grid in Qatar will certainly not be the one that many would have predicted last year. As Casey Stoner said after qualifying though, “it should be a good race tomorrow.”

Qualifying Results from the Qatar GP at Doha, Qatar:

Pos. Rider Nation Team Bike MPH Time Diff.
1 Jorge LORENZO SPA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha 203.25 1’54.634  –
2 Casey STONER AUS Repsol Honda Team Honda 206.23 1’54.855 0.221
3 Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 203.81 1’55.022 0.388
4 Ben SPIES USA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha 202.63 1’55.512 0.878
5 Nicky HAYDEN USA Ducati Team Ducati 207.66 1’55.637 1.003
6 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 204.37 1’55.858 1.224
7 Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 205.55 1’55.905 1.271
8 Hector BARBERA SPA Pramac Racing Team Ducati 209.46 1’55.983 1.349
9 Stefan BRADL GER LCR Honda MotoGP Honda 207.54 1’56.063 1.429
10 Karel ABRAHAM CZE Cardion AB Motoracing Ducati 207.23 1’56.198 1.564
11 Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda 207.72 1’56.521 1.887
12 Valentino ROSSI ITA Ducati Team Ducati 210.09 1’56.813 2.179
13 Colin EDWARDS USA NGM Mobile Forward Racing Suter 195.61 1’57.644 3.010
14 Randy DE PUNIET FRA Power Electronics Aspar ART 192.38 1’58.266 3.632
15 Aleix ESPARGARO SPA Power Electronics Aspar ART 193.93 1’58.520 3.886
16 Yonny HERNANDEZ COL Avintia Blusens BQR-FTR 188.65 1’58.795 4.161
17 Michele PIRRO ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR 193.31 1’59.085 4.451
18 Mattia PASINI ITA Speed Master ART 193.56 1’59.195 4.561
19 Danilo PETRUCCI ITA Came IodaRacing Project Ioda 184.42 1’59.664 5.030
20 Ivan SILVA SPA Avintia Blusens BQR-FTR 190.20 2’00.493 5.859
21 James ELLISON GBR Paul Bird Motorsport ART 192.56 2’00.757 6.123

Source: MotoGP; Photo: © 2012 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved