Marquez holds off Rossi in Qatar duel

Marc Marquez claims first MotoGP race of the season in Qatar

Marc Marquez claims first MotoGP race of the season in Qatar

Marc Marquez held off a charging Valentino Rossi to win the season opening Qatar Grand Prix after an epic duel under floodlights at the Losail circuit.

The reigning world champion made a slow start to the race but captialised on falls from early leaders Jorge Lorenzo and Stefan Bradl to move to the head of the field.

The final quarter of the race developed into a battle between the Honda rider and Rossi, with Marquez triumphing despite briefly losing the lead on the penultimate lap.

Honda’s Dani Pedrosa completed the podium in third ahead of Aleix Espargaro and Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso.

Australia’s Broc Parkes came through a chaotic race to claim a point for Paul Bird Motorsport in 15th position.

Lorenzo stormed into the lead from the second row after a blistering start but his joy was short-lived. The Qatar winner from the previous two years dropped the bike halfway around the opening lap.

As a result, LCR Honda’s Bradl took the lead from Marquez, Bradley Smith and Rossi, who started the race in a lowly 10th on the grid.

Alvaro Bautista provided the lead group a challenge as he moved into second but a couple of mistakes saw him drop down to the back of the quartet.

Drama struck at the half way point when Bradl dropped his Honda from the lead, handing Rossi the advantage, who had slid underneath Marquez prior to the crash.

Nine-time world champion Rossi came under serious pressure from Marquez and it wasn’t long before the current world champion moved into the lead.

An epic duel between the pair ensued with Rossi stalking Marquez’s every move around the Losail track.

Rossi pounced on the penultimate lap with a slick move for the lead but Marquez responded to take back the position. The duo swapped places again before the Honda rider swept back in front and shut the door firmly.

In the end, Marquez, who is still recovering from a broken leg, enjoyed a relatively comfortable final lap to take the chequered flag from Rossi.

Pedrosa emerged in third after Bautista and Smith suffered crashes in the latter stages.

MotoGP heads to America for round two at the Circuit of the Americas in Texas on April 13.

 Race – MotoGP – Qatar

Pos Rider Team Time/Gap
1 Marc Marquez Honda 1m54.507s
2 Valentino Rossi Yamaha +0.259s
3 Dani Pedrosa Honda +3.370s
4 Aleix Espargaro Forward Yamaha +11.623s
5 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati +12.159s
6 Cal Crutchlow Ducati +28.526s
7 Scott Redding Gresini Honda +32.593s
8 Nicky Hayden Aspar Honda +32.628s
9 Colin Edwards Forward Yamaha +39.547s
10 Andrea Iannone Pramac Ducati +43.360s
11 Hiroshi Aoyama Aspar Honda +46.595s
12 Yonny Hernandez Pramac Ducati +46.688s
13 Karel Abraham Cardion Honda +50.581s
14 Danilo Petrucci Ioda Aprilia +1m03.127s
15 Broc Parkes PBM Aprilia +1m14.386s
16 Michael Laverty PBM Aprilia +1m32.593s
17 Mike di Meglio Avintia FTR-Kawasaki +1m36.085s
RET Alvaro Bautista Gresini Honda 20 laps
RET Bradley Smith Tech 3 Yamaha 18 laps
RET Pol Espargaro Tech 3 Yamaha 17 laps
RET Stefan Bradl LCR Honda  8 laps
RET Hector Barbera Avintia FTR-Kawasaki  4 laps
RET Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha  0 laps

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