MotoGP Season Review: Rounds 1-3

As 2013 fast approaches casts its eye back over the 2012 MotoGP season, round by round

Jorge Lorenzo first past the post in Qatar
Jorge Lorenzo first past the post in Qatar
Round 1 – Qatar April's a long way back but the memory remains fresh when remembering the opening round of the 2012 MotoGP World Championship.
Qatar was World Champion Casey Stoner's domain. For four of the last five seasons the Australian had taken victory in the first race of the season at Losail, and many expected him to start the defence of his title with a continuation of the devastating form he'd displayed there in recent years. Jorge Lorenzo had other ideas though.
The Yamaha rider qualified on pole ahead of Stoner, and then got the better of him in the race to win after a three-way fight for the lead with Dani Pedrosa.
A case of arm pump for Stoner meant he faded late in the race, as Lorenzo made a resolute start to his attempt to reclaim the crown Stoner had taken off him in 2011. Pedrosa managed to get past Stoner late on to take second, with the Aussie completing the podium.
A first glimpse of an in-team rivalry that was to bubble away on-track between Tech 3 colleagues Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso was witnessed, with the Brit taking fourth after a race-long duel, and there were immediate signs it was to be another trying year for Ducati as Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi finished sixth and 10th respectively.
Round 2 – Spain The first European round of the season in the south of Spain is always an eventful one, and the Jerez crowd were treated to a spectacle for the second race of the season.
Lorenzo delighted them by taking pole, and with Stoner a second off his pace in qualifying a few eyebrows were raised. However, in the race the World Champion did what he often does and found another level, and led for the majority to take his first win of 2012 with Lorenzo less than a second behind.
Pedrosa held off a dogged Crutchlow for the third and final spot on the rostrum, with Dovizioso a distant fifth, and there was another impressive rookie ride from Stefan Bradl to seventh in just his second race.
Championship standings after Round 2: 1. Jorge Lorenzo 45pts 2. Casey Stoner 41 3. Dani Pedrosa 36 4. Cal Crutchlow 26 5. Andrea Dovizioso 22
Portugal GP
Portugal GP
Round 3 – PortugalStoner secured his first pole of the season at Estoril, as he headed into Round 3 buoyed by victory just a week earlier.
Lorenzo cut a frustrated figure when he could only make it onto the second row, and in the race it was the by-now already familiar sight of Stoner, Lorenzo and Pedrosa clearing off at the front.
The trio gapped as the 28-lap race went on and Stoner took the win by 1.5s ahead of Lorenzo, with Pedrosa a further 2s behind. The entertainment had again been provided by Tech 3 pair Dovizioso and Crutchlow, with the Italian this time coming out on top to take fourth.
The new CRT machines continued to plug away with Aleix Espargaro the highest placed in 12th, 1m20s off race winner Stoner, with the Australian taking charge of the early-season standings for the first time.
Championship standings after Round 3: 1. Casey Stoner 66 2. Jorge Lorenzo 65 3. Dani Pedrosa 52 4. Cal Crutchlow 37 5. Andrea Dovizioso 35