Casey Stoner has confirmed that his lights-to-flag victory in Monday night's delayed Qatar MotoGP season opener was as problem-free as it looked.
After qualifying on pole and leading every single track session, Stoner was already 1.2sec ahead of nearest rival Loris Capirossi by the end of lap one - and three seconds clear by the time reigning six-time MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi reached second place.
Rossi gradually eroded Stoner's advantage to 1.9sec just before the halfway stage, but Stoner allowed the Italian no closer and it was the Yamaha rider that finally gave way, rapidly dropping 7.8sec behind Stoner by the time the chequered flag fell.
Stoner has now won the last three Qatar MotoGP races - one in the day and two in the night.
"I'm so pleased with this victory because it is fruit of the hard work done by everybody at Ducati over the winter,” said Stoner. “It has been difficult to work in such short sessions here this weekend and going into the race last night we took a gamble with a setting change that we weren't sure about, but we got the opportunity to try it in warm-up and it felt great, so thank you to the team that worked really hard during the whole week-end. That gave me more confidence ahead of the race.
“We knew this circuit is demanding for fuel consumption and I had to adapt my style a little to keep the pace up and hold the advantage over Valentino but finally we didn't have problems at all with it. My wrist felt 100% tonight but I still need to work on my overall fitness after the down time over the winter and I'm sure we can keep progressing."
Stoner's victory was also the first of the new single-tyre era.
“Everyone is on the same tyres now so you don't hear any more things about 'his tyres are better than mine',” said Casey. “The grip is not the best at this track and the bike was moving around a little, but maybe from my dirt-track days I feel more comfortable than maybe other riders do like this. We are all on the same tyres so it is a good feeling to win the first race like this.”
Stoner's 2009 victory margin over Rossi was two-seconds larger than it had been over The Doctor's Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo last year. Lorenzo finished third on Monday night, 16 seconds from Stoner.