Casey Stoner savoured the Australian national anthem with his eyes firmly closed under the bright lights of Qatar after taking victory in the first night race in the history of the sport. The MotoGP World Champion started the defence of his title from fourth on the grid and had dropped to fifth by the end of the first lap, before charging through to set up a stirring battle with Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo.

The Spanish rookie proved to be the most difficult obstacle between Stoner and his eleventh career MotoGP win but by the eighth lap Stoner was in control and little by little he opened out an insurmountable gap.

Marco Melandri also produced a determined performance, overcoming the problems he has encountered over the weekend and setting a good pace - especially in the second half of the race. In the end he picked up solid points with eleventh place.

CASEY STONER - 1st (Ducati MotoGP Team)

First race, first victory
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"That was a fantastic race and I really enjoyed it - it was like being back in 125s! The first few laps were really hectic, there were guys bashing fairings and I just tried to stay out of the way. When I got my chance to get through I took it and from there I just focused on setting my pace. Jorge rode brilliantly - it wasn’t an easy race by any means, especially at the start. Over the first few laps I was struggling a bit for grip but then the tyres got up to temperature and improved. We knew we had a pretty good package for the race but obviously we couldn’t be sure that things would go as well as that. I want to say thanks to everybody at Ducati for a great job, my team, the guys at Bridgestone... Thanks everybody."

MARCO MELANDRI - 11th (Ducati MotoGP Team)

First race, first victory
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"I got a great start but a couple of riders got in my way and I lost some positions. That’s normal when you’re starting from so far back. Over the first few laps the feeling with the front wasn’t too good and when I passed Elias I ran pretty wide. The situation improved as the laps went by and I felt more stable and comfortable. The race was definitely the highlight of the weekend and that is really encouraging."

LIVIO SUPPO – MotoGP Project Director

“Casey is unique… there’s nothing more to add to that. He didn’t even make the smallest mistake today and once again he showed why the number 1 is on his bike. Marco knew how to improve his pace from practice in the second half of the race and we’re sure today will have given him much more confidence in the tools available to him, so hopefully things can improve for him from here onwards. Our thanks as always go to all our partners, but especially Shell”

Source: Ducati

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