MotoGP Qatar Race Report: The Doctor is back!

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Added in: Motorsport

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Wow, what an opening to the 2015 race season we just witnessed. Held under blisteringly bright street lights at night time, Valentino Rossi stormed the podium for his 109th premier class victory at the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar.

Rossi, who started from 8th on the grid, picked his way through the field before chasing down the leading trio of Jorge Lorenzo, Andrea Iannone and Dovizioso with 14 laps to go. The Italian moved into 2nd place with just three laps remaining, where he faced an incredible battle with Dovizioso on his Ducati GP15. The duo kept exchanging places repeatedly, constantly overtaking one another in the corners, but it was Rossi who eventually came out on top.

Andrea Dovizioso finished just 0.174s behind Rossi’s Movistar Yamaha YZR-M1 in 2nd place, proving that the new GP15 bike is more than just a “one lap wonder,” as it had been dubbed by the press earlier. Andrea Iannone on the Ducati made it an all-Italian podium, with Spain’s two-time defending champion Marc Marquez back in fifth place. Britons Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith came seventh and eighth respectively.

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Speaking to the press after the race, a visibly elated Rossi claimed, “This was my best battle ever!” “In the last three seasons I always rode solid races and arrived on the podium but to come back with a victory is another thing. I am so happy because we suffered a lot during the practices and also the tests, but we worked very well for the 22 laps race and I was very strong. First of all you have to be lucky, but especially the work that we do with the team during the weekend makes the difference for my pace in the race,” he added.

At 36, Rossi is the oldest rider still in the premier class of Grand Prix racing, but he showed no signs of it yesterday. After his string of world titles ended in 2009, the beloved Italian has had a tumultuous time, shuttling between Yamaha and Ducati, and firing his long time mentor and team manager Jeremy Burgess last year.

For his part, Andrea Dovizioso was happy with the way his Ducati performed, but admitted that he was gutted to miss out on the win: “Actually I am not that happy, as to finish one-tenth behind Valentino…I mean were so close so we wanted the victory. But we have to think about the reality of the bike, we have hardly put any kilometres on it, so to finish so close to the leader, it was a special moment for us.” The Italian went on state just how important it was for the team to be back challenging for a race win: “This is a special result for Ducati and for me, after everything we have been through in the last few years, and it rewards the work that we have done together to arrive at this point.”

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Happier than him was Dovizioso’s teammate Iannone, who moved to Ducati last year and cinched his first podium at Qatar. “It’s my first podium, and so I am very emotional. I am very happy, because we were very strong in the race and I have a very good feeling with the bike,” Iannone said. He also seemed to be confident for the season ahead: “I am sure that the GP15 has good pace and it’s fantastic at the moment, a lot of riders thought we would be quick on the soft tyre, but we hardly used it all during testing.”

Rossi’s team mate Jorge Lorenzo was in the mix for the race win before he faded towards the end and having to settle for 4th after a lengthy battle with the two factory Ducatis which were much faster on the straights. “On the speed and in braking the Ducati was much stronger than our bike, but we could recover on corner speed while the acceleration was similar,” he explained, also adding that a problem with his helmet’s foam lining prevented him from seeing well, and giving the race his full potential.

Reigning champion Marc had the worst possible start to the season as he ran wide at the very first corner, and had to make his way back through the field, after rejoining the race in last position. The Spaniard eventually managed to claw his way back to 5th, and was satisfied with having salvaged eleven crucial points instead of leaving Qatar with none.

The MotoGP juggernaut will now move to the United States where it will hold the next race at the Circuit of the Americas on the 12th of April. Below are the full results, courtesy the MotoGP website.

  1. Valentino Rossi ITA         Movistar Yamaha MotoGP (YZR-M1)             42m        35.717s
  2. Andrea Dovizioso ITA         Ducati Team (Desmosedici GP15)  42m        35.891s
  3. Andrea Iannone ITA         Ducati Team (Desmosedici GP15)  42m        37.967s
  4. Jorge Lorenzo ESP         Movistar Yamaha MotoGP (YZR-M1)             42m        38.424s
  5. Marc Marquez ESP         Repsol Honda Team (RC213V)        42m        42.753s
  6. Dani Pedrosa ESP         Repsol Honda Team (RC213V)        42m        46.472s
  7. Cal Crutchlow GBR        CWM LCR Honda (RC213V)              42m        48.101s
  8. Bradley Smith GBR        Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 42m        48.631s
  9. Pol Espargaro ESP         Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 42m        48.748s
  10. Yonny Hernandez COL        Pramac Racing (Desmosedici GP14.2)           42m        53.152s
  11. Aleix Espargaro ESP         Team Suzuki Ecstar (GSX-RR)          42m        55.618s
  12. Danilo Petrucci ITA         Pramac Racing (Desmosedici GP14.1)           43m        0.149s
  13. Scott Redding GBR        Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS (RC213V)       43m        7.749s
  14. Maverick Viñales ESP         Team Suzuki Ecstar (GSX-RR)*        43m        9.180s
  15. Hector Barbera ESP         Avintia Racing (Desmosedici GP14 Open)    43m        9.342s
  16. Stefan Bradl GER        Athina Forward Racing (Forward Yamaha)   43m        9.661s
  17. Nicky Hayden USA         Aspar (RC213V-RS)            43m        14.687s
  18. Eugene Laverty IRL          Aspar (RC213V-RS)*          43m        22.287s
  19. Mike Di Meglio FRA        Avintia Racing (Desmosedici GP14 Open)    43m        34.928s
  20. Alex De Angelis RSM        Octo IodaRacing (ART)      43m        50.698s
  21. Marco Melandri ITA         Factory Aprilia Gresini (RS-GP)       44m        23.860s
  22. Loris Baz FRA        Athina Forward Racing (Forward Yamaha)* +3 laps

Karel Abraham     CZE         Cardion AB Motoracing (RC213V-RS)            DNF

Jack Miller            AUS         CWM LCR Honda (RC213V-RS)*      DNF

Alvaro Bautista    ESP         Factory Aprilia Gresini (RS-GP)       DNF

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