The MotoGP class opened with the historic Qatar Grand Prix, the first night race held in the World Championship history. The race was won by Ducati's Casey Stoner ahead of rookie Jorge Lorenzo, who started on pole in the first race in the top class, and Dani Pedrosa.
In Spain Pedrosa won his first race of the year, ahead of Rossi and Lorenzo, while Stoner struggled with technical problems on his bike and finished 11th after twice going out on the gravel. At the Portugal GP, Lorenzo started on pole and won his first MotoGP race, ahead of Pedrosa and Rossi.
In China Rossi took his first win of the season and the first of three consecutive first places, after a weekend dominated by rain and cold temperatures; he then won in France and in front of his home crowd in Italy.
Stoner won the three consecutive races in Britain, the Netherlands and Germany, also obtaining pole position and the fastest lap in all three.
The United States race at Laguna Seca was the biggest turning point of the season. Before the race Stoner trailed Rossi on the standings by only 20 points. The Australian took pole position and started the race in first position. However, Rossi passed Stoner in the middle on the first lap, and Stoner could never make a decisive pass, and he stayed behind until the 24th lap, where he fell at the last corner. He re-mounted, but finished in second place while Rossi caught the first of five consecutive wins. In the next two races, Czech Republic and San Marino, Stoner fell off while leading from Rossi, who then won both times.
The race at Indianapolis was a particularly difficult due to track conditions: the arrival of Hurricane Ike over Indiana meant cold temperatures, heavy winds and rain for the whole race duration; the race was a battle between Rossi and former World Champion Nicky Hayden, who eventually took his first podium of the season. As Rossi began to pull a gap, heavy winds began to blow and the race was ended early with Rossi leading.
Two weeks later, in Japan, Rossi clinched his sixth premier class title with three races to go, by winning the race ahead of Stoner. The Australian then won his home race and in Valencia, while Rossi won in Malaysia.
The first four races of the season showed the early form of KTM and Mika Kallio, with two wins and two other third places, with strong showings by Marco Simoncelli, Alvaro Bautista and Mattia Pasini, who won the season opener in Qatar, his first race in the class. After the initial problems, though, Simoncelli had a run of 7 consecutive races on the podium, from China to Czech Republic. He started the season on a semi-works Aprilia LE (Gilera is a subsidiary of Aprilia, so Gilera racing bikes are rebranded Aprilia bikes), but his performances led Aprilia to give him a works Aprilia RSA, making him a de facto works rider.
After his strong start, Kallio couldn't keep the pace of Simoncelli, his KTM not being able to challenge the more powerful Aprilias in most tracks. Bautista got into shape well into the season, after a series of bad races and retirements due to problems with his bike and rider errors. After that, however, he also began a streak of podiums which lasted from Catalunya to Malaysia, but Simoncelli was too far ahead of him on the standings, and he won his first World Championship with one race to go.
Reigning champion Gábor Talmácsi stayed in the class, unlike other top names from last year who moved into 250cc category. Among the pre-season favourites were also Bradley Smith, Simone Corsi and Mike di Meglio. Talmácsi had dismal start to the season, with reliability problems on his new bike. Corsi won three of first six races and despite few bad results, looked good in the championship. However, Mike di Meglio won also multiple races, and having escaped without retirement until Misano, built up strong lead. He clinched the championship two races before the end. Corsi took second ahead of Talmácsi and Bradl who failed to finish the final race.
The 2008 race schedule was released on July 2007. The schedule was later revised, with Japan held before Australia, because of the original Australian date had a conflict with the AFL Grand Final. Two other changes were made. Portugal was moved from 20 April to 13 April and the Grand Finale in Valencia was on 26 October instead of 2 November.