As he had threatened to do for much of the winter, and Qatar MotoGP weekend, Casey Stoner won comfortably on his Repsol Honda debut at Losail on Sunday.

The Australian wasn't completely comfortable with full fuel and trailed team-mate Dani Pedrosa from laps 6 to 11. But just as the Spaniard began struggling with his left arm, Stoner picked up his pace, retook the lead and rode into the distance.

While Stoner celebrated a repeat of his debut Ducati victory from 2007, the year he went on to win the title, Pedrosa continued to deteriorate and lost second position to Yamaha's world champion Jorge Lorenzo.

Lorenzo was 3.440sec behind Stoner at the chequered flag.

"It definitely couldn't be any better, and it's a similar start to when we won the World Championship [in 2007]," said Stoner, whose 24th MotoGP victory puts him equal with triple 500cc World Champion Wayne Rainey for seventh overall on the premier-class wins list

"Everything with Honda so far has been amazing and we've made leaps and bounds over the pre-season, getting more comfortable on the bike and stronger and stronger.

"This was the same in the race and the bike was fantastic. This morning in warm-up we found the bike didn't want to work too well on a full tank of fuel so in the race Dani was able to open a bit of a gap, but we were in no hurry as we knew the bike works well on old tyres and we'd be competitive at the end of the race.

"It got better and better the more laps we did and easier to ride right until the last lap. Everything has gone so well and everyone is working well so I'm looking forward to those next races already."

Stoner is the first rider to win 800cc MotoGP races for two different manufacturers, while his victory is Honda's first at the opening round since Valentino Rossi in 2003.

Honda has not won the MotoGP title since Nicky Hayden in 2006, during the final year of 990cc racing. Stoner has been hired to end that drought during the fifth and last season of 800cc.

Stoner's former Ducati team finished just seventh and ninth on Sunday, with new-signing Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden. Stoner won three times at Losail for Ducati, and crashed out of last year's race while leading.

Stoner's best Ducati lap in last year's race was a 1min 55.537sec. The Australian beat that with a 1min 55.366sec on the Honda, while Rossi managed a best of 1min 56.053sec on the 2011 Ducati.



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