Rossi wins thrilling MotoGP opener in Qatar

Valentino Rossi scored victory in the MotoGP season opener

Valentino Rossi scored victory in the MotoGP season opener

Valentino Rossi has drawn first blood in the new MotoGP season after coming out on top in a thrilling duel with Andrea Dovizioso in Qatar.

Rossi had fallen to as low as 10th on the opening lap but came out on top in a final four-lap stoush with his countryman, while Andrea Iannone completed an all-Italian podium.

Dovizioso led the field away as fellow front row starters Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez were swamped.

Pedrosa dropped to eighth while his Repsol Honda team-mate fell to the rear of the field after running off at Turn 1 to avoid contact with Bradley Smith.

Jorge Lorenzo, starting from row two, claimed the ascendancy in a three-way battle with Dovizioso and Iannone on Lap 2, but Rossi made that a quartet on Lap 9, at which point Dovizioso reclaimed the lead.

Dovizioso and Lorenzo exchanged first position several times over the middle portion of the race, the Ducati faster in a straight line and the Yamaha better in the corners, while Rossi became a factor after passing Iannone on Lap 12.

Rossi decisively overtook his Movistar Yamaha team-mate Lorenzo for second on Lap 19, and made a pass for the top spot later that lap, which he could not hold onto.

He would lead again a lap later, and while Dovizioso made his customary move down the main straight at the start of the penultimate lap, the pole-sitter let Rossi by again when he failed to pull the bike up at Turn 1.

Rossi seized the opportunity to gap ‘Dovi’ across the top of the circuit and had enough in reserve to get bike #46 to the line first, while Iannone got the other factory Ducati onto the podium late in the piece.

“I’ve said this a lot of times but for me this is one of the best (wins),” exclaimed Rossi, who had been uncompetitive for much of the weekend.

“I recovered a lot, I didn’t give up, and the race with the two Ducatis and Jorge (Lorenzo) was difficult but in some places I was very strong and I’m so happy for my Yamaha team.”

Marquez recovered to fifth, with his ride plateauing after passing Pedrosa just beyond the halfway mark.

Pedrosa remained sixth, with Cal Crutchlow, Smith, Pol Espargaro, and Yonny Hernandez completing the top ten and of Aleix Espargaro on his Suzuki.

Australian Jack Miller vaulted from 22nd to 12th by the end of the opening lap but ran off the track on Lap 3 and ultimately crashed on the final lap.

The season continues with the Grand Prix of the Americas on 12 April.

Result: MotoGP, Qatar

1

Valentino Rossi

Yamaha

22

42:35.717

2

Andrea Dovizioso

Ducati

22

0.174

3

Andrea Iannone

Ducati

22

2.250

4

Jorge Lorenzo

Yamaha

22

2.707

5

Marc Márquez

Honda

22

7.036

6

Daniel Pedrosa

Honda

22

10.755

7

Cal Crutchlow

Honda

22

12.384

8

Bradley Smith

Yamaha

22

12.914

9

Pol Espargaró

Yamaha

22

13.031

10

Yonny Hernández

Ducati

22

17.435

11

Aleix Espargaró

Suzuki

22

19.901

12

Danilo Petrucci

Ducati

22

24.432

13

Scott Redding

Honda

22

32.032

14

Maverick Viñales

Suzuki

22

33.463

15

Héctor Barberá

Ducati

22

33.625

16

Stefan Bradl

Yamaha Forward/Yamaha

22

33.944

17

Nicky Hayden

Honda

22

38.970

18

Eugene Laverty

Honda

22

46.570

19

Mike Di Meglio

Ducati

22

59.211

20

Alex de Angelis

ART/Aprilia

22

1:14.981

21

Marco Melandri

Aprilia

22

1:48.143

22

Loris Baz

Yamaha Forward/Yamaha

19

3 Laps

Karel Abraham

Honda

21

Retirement

Jack Miller

Honda

21

Retirement

Álvaro Bautista

Aprilia

0

Retirement

 

 Championship standings

1

Valentino Rossi

25

2

Andrea Dovizioso

20

3

Andrea Iannone

16

4

Jorge Lorenzo

13

5

Marc Márquez

11

6

Daniel Pedrosa

10

7

Cal Crutchlow

9

8

Bradley Smith

8

9

Pol Espargaró

7

10

Yonny Hernández

6

11

Aleix Espargaró

5

12

Danilo Petrucci

4

13

Scott Redding

3

14

Maverick Viñales

2

15

Héctor Barberá

1

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