Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo showed why he’s the man to beat by putting on a clinic at the Qatar MotoGP race at the Losail Circuit on Sunday. Lorenzo quickly grabbed the holeshot at the start, and quickly began putting distance between himself and the riders behind to eventually win by almost six seconds. That pack behind Lorenzo initially consisted of a hard-charging Cal Crutchlow on the satellite Monster Tech 3 Yamaha, the Repsol Honda duo of Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez, Ducati’s Andrea Dovisioso, and Lorenzo’s factory Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi who got a great start from the fourth row.
Rossi swiftly showed that he’s lost none of his speed nor hunger to win, as he quickly worked his way up from fifth spot to take third place from Dovisioso by the end of the first lap during the MotoGP race at Qatar. A lunging re-pass attempt on Dovisioso (who had drafted by on the front straight) in turn one to begin the second lap went awry however, as Rossi nearly made contact with Pedrosa’s rear wheel, and the Italian was forced to run wide, giving up several places before he rejoined the pack in sixth place.
Crutchlow hung tough for the first half of the Qatar race, clinging onto the factory bikes for far longer than anyone should have. Eventually the British MotoGP rider settled into fifth place where he would remain for the duration. Pedrosa was clearly struggling to hold onto second, and he was eventually passed by Marquez, who in turn had no answer for the fleeing Lorenzo. Pedrosa looked to still have a podium finish in the bag…until Rossi swooped past Crutchlow and was quickly gaining ground on the Repsol Honda pair. Rossi disposed of Pedrosa on the 18th lap, and Marquez soon befell victim to Rossi a lap later.
“Half an hour before the race, I feel a little bit nervous,” admitted Lorenzo after the Qatar MotoGP. “I have to concentrate a lot and relax very much on the grid, because I knew the start was very important. I knew it was very difficult to open a gap, but I had to try. I made a good start and I pushed more than 100%; in the first laps it was difficult to open this gap because Pedrosa didn’t want to let go. I finally little by little open two tenths more every lap, and then it was a little bit more easy. It’s a very good result, I’m happy for Yamaha and happy for Valentino because he’s had two very difficult years.”
“It was my target to get on the podium in the first race,” said Rossi about the Qatar MotoGP. “This morning after the warmup I knew I had a good pace. So I think if I do a good start, I have to risk a bit for overtake the bike in front that are a bit more slow than me. But to overtake Dovisioso, maybe I arrive too fast and I touch a bit with Pedrosa and I go wide, and from that moment my race became very, very difficult. Because for me it was very difficult to overtake Bradl, so I lose a lot of time, and I could see my podium going away. But when I have the free track, I have a great pace, and step by step I got closer and closer. At the end it was a great battle with both but especially with Marc in the last lap because maybe I was a bit faster but we were very close. So anyway I’m so happy, I’m so happy for Yamaha and for Jorge, first and second in the first race is fantastic. I think we can enjoy this season.”
"To tell the truth, I was pretty nervous on the grid, because it was my first MotoGP race,” said Marquez at Qatar. “I don't think I've ever been so nervous before. I found it hard to keep calm and I wasn't as focused as in Moto2. However, I regained my concentration at the last moment. The start was important and we knew that we were taking off from the dirty part of the track. I didn't get off well, but I was able to attack on the opening laps and overtake many riders. I think that this was the key. When I rode behind Dani I learned a lot, also later on with Valentino. Fighting against him is always nice to watch, but it's always tough at the same time. Valentino was a tough rival to overtake on the final laps. He beat us this time, but we hope to learn from him and from everyone who went faster than us"
MotoGP Qatar race results:
1. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Yamaha
2. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Yamaha
3. Marc Marquez (SPA) Honda
4. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Honda
5. Cal Crutchlow (GBR) Yamaha
6. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Honda
7. Andrea Dovisioso (ITA) Ducati
8. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati
9. Andrea Iannone (ITA) Ducati
10. Ben Spies (USA) Ducati
11. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) ART/Aprilia
12. Randy De Puniet (FRA) ART/Aprilia
13. Hector Barbera (SPA) FTR/Kawasaki
14. Yonny Hernandez (COL) ART/Aprilia
15. Hiroshi Aoyama (JPN) FTR/Kawasaki
16. Claudio Corti (ITA) FTR/Kawasaki
17. Michael Laverty (GBR) ART/Aprilia
18. Lukas Pesek (CZE) Ioda/BMW
DNF Colin Edwards (USA) FTR/Kawasaki
DNF Danilo Petrucci (ITA) Ioda/BMW
DNF Stefan Bradl (GER) Honda
DNF Bradley Smith (GBR) Yamaha
DNF Bryan Staring (AUS) FTR/Honda
DNF Karel Abraham (CZE) ART/Aprilia