QATAR. Opening the season with a sensational final lap performance, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) beat Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) to the line at the Losail International Circuit by just 0.027s. Behind the duo, Rossi fought off his rivals to secure a safe third position ahead of top independent rider Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda CASTROL), whilst Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) made some strong moves on the closing laps to complete the top five.
Comeback king Maverick Vinales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) crossed the line in sixth, after being down in 14th on the opening lap. Making his 200th start in the premier-class, Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) took seventh position, ahead of early race leader Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), crossing the line in eighth. Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) had a lonely Qatar GP in ninth position, ahead of Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) who completed the top ten in his first race for his new team.
Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) opened the season in 11th, ahead of top rookie Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) who crossed the line in the top 12, as Alvaro Bautista (Angel Nieto Team) salvaged three points from a tough weekend in 13th. Making his MotoGP™ debut, Malaysian Hafizh Syahrin (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) took a top 14 finish, ahead of Karel Abraham (Angel Nieto Team) who takes home the final point from Qatar in 15th.
Aleix Espargaró stops within a shout of the top ten.
A fuelling problem stopped Aleix Espargaró on the final lap, just as a good placement in the top ten was within reach.
In the second half of the race, Aleix had found a good pace, moving up several position, thanks in part to a couple of crashes by riders ahead of him. At the start of the final lap, he had caught up to Miller (tenth) and Iannone (ninth) with a good chance of overtaking them, considering the significant difference in pace. However, precisely during the last lap, a fuelling problem silenced the V4 in the number 41 Aprilia. In any case, Aleix managed to cross the finish line (in 19th place), but he had already lost his chances for the good result.
Aleix Espargaró: 19th
“Despite the result, I am satisfied with the way I managed the race. I gave 100%, using a very conservative map straight away and managing in any case to maintain a good pace. I hoped to be able to use the more aggressive map in the race finale, where we know that we are faster, but that wasn't possible. During the final lap I was about to attack Miller and Iannone, but some fuelling problems cost me a lot of positions. A ninth place finish in these conditions would have been an important result. We need to work together to solve this problem, without which I am convinced that we would have been able to battle in the group of the best 5-6 down to the end".
Simeon finishes his first race in MotoGP
Xavier Siméon: 21st
“When you start from the last place of the grid, it is difficult to set a goal for the race. During the winter test I never did a complete race simulation and this has been my first race in every sense. Overall I’m satisfied, I’ve been improving every lap and I clocked my fastest time on the 19th lap, which is very positive for me. The level in MotoGP is very high this year, last year I would have scored points with the lap times I did today. At least, I’ve gained experience and I finished my first race, with pretty decent lap times. We will continue working to do better in Argentina”.