Stoner Lights Up Losail with 11th MotoGP Win
The first ever night MotoGP race has been added to the impressive tally of Casey Stoner victories after the 2007 champion rode his Bridgestone shod Ducati across the line in 42 minutes 36.587 seconds, narrowly edging out pole position holder Jorge Lorenzo at Qatar’s Losail International Circuit. The Losail victory, Stoner’s eleventh in MotoGP, came despite what the tyre major has described as “challenging night-time track conditions…which have made for a difficult weekend for Bridgestone.”
“At the start of the race, I hung back a bit because I wanted to wait until things calmed down a bit, keeping out of trouble and not losing pace with the front pack,” commented Stoner. “Although qualifying did not go too well, we knew we had quite a good race pace, but this win is a fantastic result and I don’t think we really expected it. At the start, I lacked side traction and traction in general, but once the tyres warmed up, we could put in some good lap times. The rear grip was dropping towards the end of the race and we had a couple of front end slides, but as the fuel level dropped, the pace was still good.”
Lorenzo pushed his Michelin shod Yamaha hard throughout the race, delivering a performance that earned his Australian competitor’s praise. “Jorge rode brilliantly,” said Stoner. “It wasn’t an easy race by any means, especially at the start.” Valentino Rossi, at his first outing on Bridgestone tyres, secured fifth place with his Yamaha.
Bridgestone reports that the Qatar circuit “has never been an easy venue for Bridgestone and this weekend has been no exception, with a fundamental lack of grip in the cooler night-time conditions.” The tyre major says it will use the lessons learned from this weekend to further develop its low temperature compounds, as well as the qualifying rubber, which it acknowledges struggled for pace during the March 8 event.
“From a technical perspective, we have faced a tough challenge here at Qatar, so it is of course great to see Casey Stoner and the Ducati team take another win using our tyres,” said Hirohide Hamashima, director of Bridgestone Motorsport Race Tyre Development. “Generally, we have struggled for performance compared to our rivals, both with race and qualifying tyres. Casey was the only Bridgestone rider to get competitiveness from the race tyres over the full race distance, and he set some very impressive times, but the results from other riders on our tyres shows that we have more work to do on our low temperature compounds.”
While acknowledging the need to further develop the tyres fielded in future events, Bridgestone has praised the efforts and results achieved by the teams using its tyres. Hiroshi Yasukawa, director of Bridgestone Motorsport, said: “Congratulations to the Ducati team and to Casey for another perfect performance in spite of the difficult conditions faced this weekend. It is a pleasure to see a Bridgestone-shod team and rider take the first win of the season and to start this competitive year with such success. We know it has not been easy here in Qatar, but we have done our best to supply each of our teams with the most competitive tyres possible. All our teams have given their maximum this weekend and our thanks go to each of them for their efforts.”