The excitement unfolded from the start of the race when Jorge Lorenzo moved to the front of the pack at turn one but crashed out of the lead seconds later at turn 15, destroying the new Movistar Yamaha before the first lap was complete. Lorenzo’s crash put Stefan Bradl in the lead with Marc Marquez, still recovering from his broken right leg, in second. Bradl led for several laps before going down on the eighth. This set the scene for the 1-2 battle between Marquez and Lorenzo’s Movistar Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi.
Jorge Lorenzo: “I made a mistake, it was a long time ago that I last did that in a race! We are not perfect; we are only human and sometimes we make mistakes. The tires were different from last year and the temperature of the tarmac was a little colder. I didn’t take these circumstances into account and I was too fast into the corner when the front and rear tire were not ready yet.”
Marquez and Rossi diced it out to the last lap and it was Marquez outpacing Rossi by 0.25s for the checkered – with Marquez’s Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa three seconds back to complete the podium. Marquez’ win marks Honda’s 250th in MotoGP, the first manufacturer to reach that milestone.
Marc Marquez: “The battle with Valentino was the best part of the race besides the win, I really enjoyed it! The 25 points are important but it’s also been an important race, because I was coming back from an injury that caused me to miss most of the pre-season. Also, this weekend there were a lot of riders up at the front, all with a great pace, and seeing how the race went, this win is a big one.”
Dani Pedrosa: “Third place is a positive result. We’ve finished on the podium this weekend at a circuit that’s difficult for me, because it isn’t well suited to my style. So it’s a good way to start. We were close, but with the way the race went – with so many crashes – it was important to finish. So from here on in we will try to keep improving and try to fight for the win at the next race.”
Valentino Rossi: “I’m very happy but a little bit upset because I lost. Marc is very strong and I enjoyed very much the whole race. It was a great race, very funny from the beginning, I started from behind and I had to take risks in the first laps. I was very precise and didn’t make any mistakes. At the end I played my card with Marc but he was stronger than me so he won and he deserved it.”
An excellent ride for Aleix Espargaro saw him take fourth on his debut for NGM Forward Racing on their ‘Open’ Yamaha. Espargaro cashed in on the crashes of Alvaro Baustista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini) and Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) as they fell out of the podium hunt.
Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow did well in fifth and sixth respectively for Ducati Team, though Crutchlow finished 16 seconds behind his teammate after almost running out of fuel on his debut for the Italian factory.
Andrea Dovizioso: “We have to look at the positive aspects of this result, because in view of the championship a fifth place is always important. But another important objective for us was to reduce the gap to the winner, and we managed to cut that down by half from last year, and that’s another important fact. We still have understeer problems that condition our performance in the race, but I am pleased with the progress we’ve made so far, even though we still have to work hard to improve our bike.”
Cal Crutchlow: “It was a bittersweet race for me. Finishing in sixth place is a good result, I needed to repay the boys with a finish because they worked hard after the warm-up, when I crashed out. In the race, from lap 5 onwards, we had an electrical problem: the transponder wasn’t working, the dash switched off and the bike began to behave strangely. I was pleased to be competitive until mid-way with Aleix and Dovi but I struggled to finish the race because the problem got worse towards the end. However it was important to get this race distance under our belt for Ducati and come away from here in not too bad a shape.”
A good first premier class race for Scott Redding (GO&FUN Honda Gresini) saw him beat fellow ‘Open’ Honda equipped rider Nicky Hayden (Drive M7 Aspar) to seventh by a 0.035s margin.
Scott Redding: “I am very happy. I was expecting to be able to follow [Nicky] Hayden for a few laps, not for the entire race and even beat him. In the first laps I wanted to exploit the potential of the softer tire and I was pretty aggressive, making some moves. At that point I followed Hayden for a lot of laps, then I felt that he let me pass, only to overtake me soon after. I knew, however, that I could be faster than him, so in the latter part of the race I tried to overtake him on the fast sector, with a big move, then I pushed as much as I could for the last two laps. We reached our goal, which was to be the best Open class Honda.”
The top ten was rounded out by Hayden’s compatriot Colin Edwards (NGM Forward Racing), riding his first race as a 40 year-old, and Andrea Iannone (Pramac Racing) who recovered well from a fall on the last corner of lap two. A mistake from rookie Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) with five laps to go saw him drop down to 15th and then pit shortly after.
Grand Prix of Qatar - Round 1
|1||Marc Marquez||93||ESP||25||Repsol Honda Team||HONDA||42’40.561|
|2||Valentino Rossi||46||ITA||20||Yamaha Factory||YAMAHA||+0.259|
|3||Dani Pedrosa||26||ESP||16||Repsol Honda Team||HONDA||+3.370|
|4||Aleix Espargaro||41||ESP||13||NGM Mobile Forward Racing||YAMAHA||+11.623|
|5||Andrea Dovizioso||4||ITA||11||Ducati Team||DUCATI||+12.159|
|6||Cal Crutchlow||35||GBR||10||Ducati Team||DUCATI||+28.526|
|7||Scott Redding||45||GBR||9||Go & Fun Honda Gresini||HONDA||+32.593|
|8||Nicky Hayden||69||USA||8||Drive M7 Aspar||HONDA||+32.628|
|9||Colin Edwards||5||USA||7||NGM Mobile Forward Racing||YAMAHA||+39.547|
|10||Andrea Iannone||29||ITA||6||Pramac Racing||DUCATI||+43.360|
|11||Hiroshi Aoyama||7||JPN||5||Drive M7 Aspar||HONDA||+46.595|
|12||Yonny Hernandez||68||COL||4||Pramac Racing||DUCATI||+46.688|
|13||Karel Abraham||17||CZE||3||Cardion AB Motoracing||HONDA||+50.581|
|14||Danilo Petrucci||9||ITA||2||IodaRacing Project||IODA-SUTER||+1’03.127|
|15||Broc Parkes||23||AUS||1||Paul Bird Motorsport||PBM||+1’14.386|
|16||Michael Laverty||70||GBR||Paul Bird Motorsport||ART & PBM||+1’32.593|
|17||Mike Di Meglio||63||FRA||Avintia Racing MotoGP||FTR-KAWASAKI||+1’36.085|
|18||Alvaro Bautista||19||ESP||Go & Fun Honda Gresini||HONDA||DNF|
|19||Bradley Smith||38||GBR||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||YAMAHA||DNF|
|20||Pol Espargaro||44||ESP||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||YAMAHA||DNF|
|21||Stefan Bradl||6||GER||LCR Honda MotoGP||HONDA||DNF|
|22||Hector Barbera||8||ESP||Avintia Racing MotoGP||FTR-KAWASAKI||DNF|
|23||Jorge Lorenzo||99||ESP||Yamaha Factory Racing||YAMAHA||DNF|