Having finished fifth at the Losail International Circuit last year Valentino Rossi was pleased to have started the 2009 season - and his MotoGP title defence - with an improved second place in Qatar.
World Champion Valentino Rossi was unable to prevent Casey Stoner running away with a third consecutive season-opening victory at the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar, but the brilliant Italian typically took the positives from his second place finish in the Arabian desert in Monday’s re-scheduled MotoGP race.
Rossi was amongst those who had stated after Sunday night’s rainfall that it was important to stay on at the floodlit Losail track to put on a show for the fans on Monday evening, and whilst he was unable to catch Stoner at the front of the race he did his level best at trying to hunt down the Ducati Marlboro poleman.
Starting from second on the grid Fiat Yamaha’s Rossi was unable to go with Stoner from the first lap and had to get past his own team-mate Jorge Lorenzo and his old friend Loris Capirossi - who eventually crashed - before he could attempt to pull back the Australian.
A three second gap between the leading pair was cut down to two by Rossi midway through the race but he could not make further progress against Stoner, who has a superb record at Qatar and dominated every session over the weekend – the 2007 World Champion eventually winning by nearly eight seconds.
Afterwards Rossi commented, “Today the conditions of the track were quite different to before and this evening in warm-up we encountered a couple of small problems related to tyres, so our strategy had to change slightly tonight. It’s a pity because I think last night we could have put up more of a fight, but anyway this is a good result to start the season, much better than last year.”
Analysing the race in more detail he continued, “I knew I needed a good start in order to go with Stoner but unfortunately I didn’t get one and I lost some time fighting with Lorenzo and Capirossi and by then Stoner had already gone! The middle part of the race was great fun and I made six or seven good laps to come much closer, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to continue in that rhythm, it was too risky for the tyres and I decided it was more important to take the 20 points.”
Summarising the first GP of the season in general and looking ahead to visiting Japan for round two – where he clinched the title last season – Rossi concluded, “Casey was very strong but he is always fast here and I believe that our potential is very good; I think that we can be back fighting again in Motegi. I am so glad we could race today after yesterday and I am satisfied to be leaving here having made a good start to the season. There is a long way to go!”