Marc Marquez won a truly incredible season-opening MotoGP race at the Losail circuit in Qatar on Sunday, after a thrilling encounter with nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi. The young Spaniard triumphed in a race that saw more than its fair share of incidents and accidents, with Jorge Lorenzo crashing out of the lead on the very first lap.
Lorenzo had surged from 5th on the grid into the lead, passing Briton Bradley Smith who had initially taken the advantage from pole-sitting Marquez and 2nd place Alvaro Bautista. The Yamaha rider looked set to reprise his 2013 ace card and make Marquez work for the win, but came unstuck at Losail’s infamous turn two, slamming hard into the asphalt and left to lament his misfortune with his smashed bike lying in the gravel.
That left the fast-starting Stefan Bradl in the lead, a position he held with assurance until fourteen laps from home when he cracked under the pressure from Marquez and slid into retirement, joined in the closing stages by Smith and Bautista; the latter after a close fight with Dani Pedrosa over the final podium slot.
The real action was up front though, with Rossi placing the erswhile untouchable Marquez under intense pressure and seizing on several mistakes by the younger man to lead the race; he didn’t give up easily and there were several passes and fairing-banging moves before Marquez prevailed.
Pedrosa picked up the final podium position, while Aleix Espargaro and Andrea Dovizioso weathered the high retirement rate to come home 4th and 5th, while Cal Crutchlow coasted across the line in 6th with a mechanical failure. He made it past the chequered flag mere fractions before compatriot Scott Redding who was an excellent 7th on his debut, with American duo Nicky Hayden and Colin Edwards 9th and 10th. Andrea Iannone fell early on but recovered to 10th, while Broc Parkes picked up a single point in his first top-flight race since 1999 by finishing 15th.