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Dani Digs Deep To Score Podium Finish at Qatar MotoGP race

Reigning World Champion Casey Stoner (Ducati) ran away with this race when he took the lead at mid-race distance of this 22-lap encounter. Rookie and poleman Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) was second and the injured Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) a gritty third.

Andrea Dovizioso (JiR Scot Honda RC212V) made a stunning start to his premier class career too with a fourth place he stole from senior rider Valentino Rossi (Yamaha). This year’s new intake of 250 riders has made its mark early.

Dani got the holeshot from row three making a fantastic getaway from eighth on the grid. He simply steamed past Stoner who looked most likely to enter turn one heading the pack. Yamaha men James Toseland and Colin Edwards were the other fast men off the grid.

Rookie Lorenzo wasted no time in catching up with the leaders and by lap three Rossi too had got on terms, passing Lorenzo to take third place as Toseland and Edwards fell off the pace slightly. Dani was flying, setting a fastest lap of 1m 56.270s as he carved out a 1.4 second lead over his rivals. But it didn’t last.

Stoner then began to close in ominously as Rossi stole the lead from Dani and Lorenzo then passed his sworn Spanish rival for second. Stoner held fourth on lap six with Dovi moving rapidly up the field too to fifth.

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V)
At the midway point a seven rider group held sway at the sharp end, this still included Toseland and Edwards with a six second gap back to Loris Capirossi (Suzuki) in eighth, with Hopkins and then Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC212V) who was never really on the pace here tonight.

His team-mate was. Dani suffered a knock to his injured hand in a qualifying crash and a podium was a very acceptable result for a man who missed most of winter testing with that injury to his throttle hand.

Stoner then upped the pace reeling off a series of fastest laps as he moved away from the opposition just as he had here in 2007. Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda RC212V), Hayden and Alex de Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) now lay tenth, 11th and 12th with Shinya Nakano (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) just behind.

Stoner stretched his advantage over Lorenzo to 5.3 seconds at the flag with Dani a similar distance behind his ‘fellow’ Spaniard Lorenzo. If the podium places were settled before the last lap, the action for fourth was anything but relaxed.

Dovi was working on Rossi on the penultimate lap, sizing up the multiple Champion before making his pass, only to have fourth snatched away from him again as the old master slapped the impudent student down.

But Dovi was in no mood to pay too much respect to his elders and on the last lap he tried the same pass, Rossi responded again but ran wide into the next turn and the rookie seized his opportunity like the racer he is and slipped inside to hold the lead to the flag by just seven thousandths of a second as they tried to out-drag each other on the straight.

The night-time race was a success itself, but equally encouraging has been the strong showing from the class rookies. The World Championship order is as per race order after only one race.

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