MotoGP »`s MotoGP season review - Pt 1.

The 2008 MotoGP season began with a step into the unknown in the form of the first ever grand prix night race, but - despite the shock of a rookie qualifying one-two by Jorge Lorenzo and James Toseland - the end result was exactly the same as the year before, victory for Casey Stoner and Ducati at Qatar.

The Australian and his Bridgestone-shod Desmosedici had destroyed the 2007 opposition and a second MotoGP title was already looking a distinct possibility, especially with lead rival Valentino Rossi only fifth on his Bridgestone debut.

Few doubted that Rossi would reach race-winning speed eventually on his new tyres, but would it be too late to stop Stoner - a rider who finished every race in 2007, winning ten of them and never finished lower than sixth?

But the Stoner/Ducati invincibility hit an unexpected stumble next time out in Jerez, when - for the first time since throwing a leg over a Ducati - Stoner appeared to be in genuine difficulty.

With new team-mate Marco Melandri never looking comfortable on the GP8, the Jerez handling problems weren't a complete surprise - but this was the first time that Stoner's talent and determination had been unable to rise above them.

The #1 qualified seventh, but ran off track on lap three, leaving him at the back of the field. Stoner went on to finish eleventh, after suffering a further moment late in the race. Rossi wasn't the main beneficiary of Stoner's woes, although the Italian did claim his first Bridgestone podium at Jerez, instead it was Dani Pedrosa who stood on the top step of the rostrum, in front of his home fans.

Pedrosa had missed much of pre-season testing due to injury and, like team-mate Nicky Hayden, had begun the year using last year's valve-spring Honda engine, but the Spaniard raced from eighth to third at Qatar, then qualified behind only Lorenzo at Jerez en route to his first win of the year - and the world championship lead.

Lorenzo finished behind Pedrosa and Rossi to prove that his Qatar debut was no fluke, and the 20-year-old - the youngest rider on the MotoGP grid - completed a stunning start to his premier-class career next time out at Estoril, when he converted his third pole in a row into his first ever MotoGP victory, by 1.8sec over arch-rival Pedrosa, and took the world championship lead.

"I feel like I'm in heaven!" beamed Lorenzo, who planted his trademark 'Lorenzo's Land' victory flag for the first time as a MotoGP rider.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Stoner, Rossi, US MotoGP 2008
Nicky Hayden - A tribute
Private testing action from Barcelona
Morning (left) and afternoon (right) lap times from Weds at Barcelona test
Marquez fall at private Barcelona test
Barcelona Circuit of Catalunya chicane final sector
New Catalunya chicane during private test
New chicane in use at Catalunya MotoGP test
Pedrosa, Zarco, Vinales, French MotoGP 2017
Vinales, French MotoGP 2017
Crowd, French MotoGP 2017
Baz, French MotoGP 2017
Rossi, Vinales, French MotoGP 2017
Iannone, French MotoGP 2017
Folger, French MotoGP 2017
Crowd, French MotoGP 2017
Dovizioso, Crutchlow, French MotoGP 2017
Vinales, Zarco, Rossi, French MotoGP 2017

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damo - Unregistered

December 24, 2008 12:25 AM

Yeah it was clearly Stoner's fault that Rossi nearly ran him off the track twice at the corkscrew Lol. You're deluded if you think the Ducati was superior to the yam last year.

damo - Unregistered

December 24, 2008 1:25 AM

It wasn't the same as 07 at all! Casey was in the title lead nearly all the way through 07, not trying to make up a big points defecit. Plus the Yam was a lot stronger this year so he was always under a lot more pressure from Rossi in 08. At some races he had the pace to win, at others he didn't pure and simple. Laguna probably did have some influence, maybe Casey wasn't willing to let Rossi get close enough to nearly run him off the track again, but it's being overstated.

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