MotoGP Champ Defends Title in Qatar

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Casey Stoner savored 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 defense 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.

Lorenzo, the Spanish rookie, proved to be the most difficult obstacle between Stoner and his 11th career MotoGP win, but by the eighth lap Stoner was in control and little by little he opened out an insurmountable gap.

"That was a fantastic race and I really enjoyed it — it was like being back in 125s," Stoner said following the race. "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 tires 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."

"Casey is unique…there's nothing more to add to that" said Livio Suppo, Ducati MotoGP project director. "He didn't even make the smallest mistake today and once again he showed why the number 1 is on his bike."

MotoGP pilots next race in Jerez, Spain, on March 30.