Stoner has enjoyed a good record at the floodlit Losail Circuit near the Qatari capital Doha [AFP]

Australia's former world champion Casey Stoner won the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix ahead of Spaniards Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa.

Stoner learnt from his mistake of last year, when he started from pole only to crash on lap six, by letting Honda teammate Pedrosa move ahead early on and even permitted reigning world champion Lorenzo to lead briefly after the Yamaha rider overtook both Hondas.

He moved ahead on the second lap followed by Pedrosa, who went on to lead from laps seven to 12 before before being reeled in during a battle between the Spaniards and Stoner.

Stoner finished 3.44 seconds ahead of Lorenzo to give Honda their first win in the opening round of the season in eight years.

The Australian, who had already won here in 2008 and 2009, thereby claimed the 31st victory of his career.

Reigning Moto2 champion Toni Elias of Spain, who has stepped back up to MotoGP this season, had a nightmare race, starting at the back and falling at the end of the race.

Valentino Rossi of Italy, winner of nine world titles across the classes, finished well off the pace in seventh.

Both Stoner and Rossi were on new bikes, with Stoner having left Ducati for Honda and Rossi now racing with Ducati after years with Yamaha. 

Source: Agencies