Rossi bounces back with Qatar victory

Race

Camel Yamaha Team rider Valentino Rossi returned to the top step of the podium after a stunning ride in today’s Grand Prix of Qatar. Rossi’s 54th career MotoGP victory was sealed with a perfectly timed run in the second half of the race, passing early leader Casey Stoner (Honda) on lap 10 of 22 and holding off a late attack from Nicky Hayden (Honda) and Loris Capirossi (Ducati), who completed the podium. The win brings Rossi’s premier-class tally level with that of Mick Doohan, with only the legendary Giacomo Agostini now ahead of him on 68 victories.

Colin Edwards endured a difficult afternoon after front-end problems that appeared throughout the weekend returned to haunt him in the race. The American started from eighth on the grid and made a good start, moving up to sixth place by lap five, but he was unable to maintain the fast and consistent pace he showed in practice and he eventually dropped to ninth. Rossi’s victory moves him up to fourth in the championship, fourteen points behind early leader Capirossi after two rounds of seventeen.

Valentino Rossi - 1st; 43’22.229
"That was a great race – it was hard but that is what made it such fun. My M1 worked really well today - as the race went on the grip went down and the vibration completely disappeared, so I was able to go fast at the end. Also I set the fastest lap of the race on lap three, so this shows how well my M1 was working. This win is important for the championship but even more so from a mental point of view for me and the team. It was windy but the grip was good and I was able to chase Stoner, who was very fast at the start. When his tyres went down I was able to pass him and I thought I could escape but Nicky stayed with me. Then I looked back and saw Loris was coming too so I began to get worried about the last few laps. Anyway, I pushed hard and managed to hold on. It is great to be level with Mick Doohan, now only Giacomo Agostini is ahead of me. Records are not the most important thing but they are always nice! This feels like the start of the championship for me. Jerez was a nightmare but here we woke up! Big thanks to Jeremy and all the guys because they stayed focused during a difficult time and this is their reward.”

Colin Edwards - 9th; 43’45.149 (+22.920)
"I made a good start and over the first five laps I felt fine – the bike was good and I was able to ride aggressively. I thought: ‘okay, let’s go for it.’ Then on lap six I lost the front three times in a row and I almost crashed on each one of them. I thought it was a bit early in the race for that to happen so I pushed on and got going again but the front kept going and I had to ride slower and slower. In the practice simulation I ran a 1’57.2 on my last lap but in the race it was three seconds slower so clearly something is not right. Thankfully we have a test tomorrow to find out what it was and make sure that we are in better shape for Turkey.”

Davide Brivio – Camel Yamaha Team Director
“This is a great day for us because we have been going through a difficult patch so to come out of it with a win is fantastic. It is a credit to the team because they have remained determined throughout the problems and never lost their focus. On Colin’s side we have to keep this focus because he had some problems today and we want to bring both Yamahas to the top. We have work to do but we made up some important points in the championship today and this victory gives us even more motivation to continue in the same way at Istanbul.”

Improved performance brings smiles to Tech 3 Yamaha Team
The improvement of the Tech 3 Yamaha Team continued at a wind-swept Losail International Circuit in Qatar today, with an encouraging performance from both riders the exact tonic needed to boost confidence in the team for the long season ahead. Battling very challenging and treacherous riding conditions, with gales sweeping off the surrounding desert, Tech 3 team-mates Carlos Checa and James Ellison finished 12th and 13th respectively. Ellison gained an added bonus as he claimed his first championship points of the year, while Checa fought a hard race despite still suffering the effects of injuries suffered in crashes during the opening Grand Prix in Spain two weeks ago.

Results could have been even better for the Tech 3 Yamaha Team except for a first lap incident when both riders were baulked after Randy De Puniet (Kawasaki) crashed in front of them. The incident forced them to the rear of the field, but hard riding for the entire 22 laps saw them fight their way through a number of opponents. Team Director Herve Poncharal was delighted with the results, considering the conditions and the first lap incident that hampered progress in the race, which was won by fellow Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi.

Carlos Checa - 12th; 44'11.474 (+49.245)
“I am very happy with the performance of the Yamaha and the Dunlop tyres today. That is very encouraging for myself and the team but at the moment I am not fit enough to ride the bike and the tyres to the level that I would like. My shoulder is a little better today but in two weeks I will be so much fitter. The severe wind also made it harder to ride than I had anticipated. The team continues to improve everything about the bike and I am confident that after rest and physiotherapy I will be in much better shape to battle the way I desire in the races ahead.”

James Ellison - 13th; 44'23.698 (+1'01.469)
"I am very, very happy. We both got held up on the first lap when another rider crashed in front of us and without this I think the result could have been even better. I am feeling really comfortable on the bike now and pushed very hard throughout the race. I made up two seconds in one lap but then I got stuck behind Tamada and couldn’t get past him for quite a while. The tyres held up perfectly for the 22 laps and were exactly the same at the finish as at the start and that is very encouraging. We got some points to start the season with and if I keep progressing like I am doing there will be even better results coming in the near future.”

Herve Poncharal - Tech3 Yamaha Team Director
“Altogether we had a good weekend. The entire package – the bike and tyres – worked really well, going the whole distance. I think considering the severe winds and the problems that Carlos is having we had very encouraging results. Carlos fully-fit will deliver the promise he showed in winter testing while James is getting better every time he rides the bike. After De Puniet crashed it made it difficult for the results we wanted, but both James and Carlos fought through to the end like the determined and courageous riders they are. I’m very satisfied with the results and how much everything has improved since our test here in February. We will be testing here tomorrow with James only as Carlos will return home to make a full recovery and be fit for the next Grand Prix in Turkey in three weeks.”