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The first race of the year has commenced and what an exciting adrenaline rush it was with multiple manufacturers going head to head! The season opener was incredible with knees, elbows and shoulders being utilised in every way possible. The final result came down to the last lap and on the last corner with DesmoDovi and The Ant Marquez whom tackle one another with passion, energy and focus. To draw the first straw as a victory for Dovi is a very positive step forward mentally and physically for his team. On the other side of the garage, Marquez was disappointed that he got beaten once again on the last lap and one day hopes to have a reverse result! We have every toe and finger crossed that these battles will continue throughout the entire season and have us on the edge of our seats clapping, screaming, yelling and enjoying the show that these classy riders put on for the world.

The start of the race featured Johann Zarco out the front with an incredible pole position lap from the day before where he broke Lorenzo’s 10-year record. The Frenchman has continued to showcase incredible sportsmanship and talent on board a satellite Yamaha and wants to win at least one race. He did everything he could to stay out the front until the tyres started to shred and his bike slowly retreat behind the factory bikes. We have to commend Zarco on his determination because the fire within his belly ignites brightly time and time again. Johann Zarco: “I had a nice weekend! The race has been good. To start from pole position was a great feeling and a good opportunity to take to fight with the top guys. I had a good start and I took over the top, because I wanted to lead the race and then I was quite comfortable there, not able to be faster than the others, but nobody overtook me. I tried to control the rear grip well, to have always some possibilities to go out from the corner, which was working well. Then, seven laps to the end, I tried to push a bit more to maybe make a gap, but already during the race I had some limit feeling from the front, that I didn’t experience during the practice. When the other guys overtook me five laps to the end, I really understood, that I wasn’t able to use the front tyre on the right side anymore in the correct way, which is why I couldn’t fight.” As a result, this is an area where a rider has to make a decision to stay upright or finish in the kitty litter. Zarco made the right decision because this is only the first race of the year with so many more opportunities to come.

If you look at the grid, we had a spectacular show of colours, brands and riders in the mix for a win and podium finish. We had Johann Zarco, Marc Marquez, Andrea Dovizioso, Alex Rins, Danilo Petrucci, Cal Crutchlow, Valentino Rossi, Dani Pedrosa, Jack Miller and eventually Maverick Vinales in the mix. The sport has definitely bridged the gap and allowed more opportunity between the factory and independent teams. It is really nice to see this occur and allow a close train line of riders battling their hearts out on track in front of fans across the entire globe. If you look at strategy, DesmoDovi was calculated and knew what was going to take place when he speaks of race pace. Dovi knew how to manage the tyres and have spare rubber towards the end even with a poor start which would allow him to push harder than the other riders who overcooked their rubber earlier in the race. Andrea Dovizioso: “On the first lap I had to come off the gas, otherwise I would have crashed into Rins I think, but then I began to make up places, trying not to ruin the tyres.. Towards the end, after passing Zarco, I tried to pull out a gap on Marquez and Rossi but I didn’t have any more grip and was unable to increase my lead. At the last curve I had to be very careful because I knew that Marquez would try and pass me, and that’s how it went. He closed the door on me even more than in Austria and Japan, but I passed him on the inside of the kerb and then took advantage of the power of my Desmosedici to stay ahead. Once again it was a great satisfaction!” A man of class, poise and gratitude crossed the line to bag the first 25 points of the season and it was a pearler of a victory.

In comparison, Marquez was happy to finish second as he considers Qatar one of his trickier race events. His approach was to stay with the front group and aim for second place as a minimum result. Marc Marquez: “With the hard front tyre I was struggling a bit in the left corners but with the medium I wouldn’t have finished the race. I tried to pass Dovi in the last corner but he beat me. Honestly, I was expecting that, but I had to try the move anyway, to see if there was any way we could make it happen. In the end, Dovi had something more than me and he deserves this win. Even if he was a bit behind at the start, I was waiting for him–I was waiting for the red! I knew his tactic was to push at the end and when he passed Zarco I said to myself, ‘let’s go!’ I followed him and almost went wide, but it was a great race and a great show. The thing I’m most happy about is that, this time, we were able to stay with him on the straight and this is very good.” Repsol Honda have worked hard to improve the engine performance of Marquez bike in order to combat the straight-line speed of the Ducati. It was evident at Qatar that Honda have accomplished a step forward in relation to this issue and want to improve more and more throughout the season as they attempt to catch the Italian manufacturer where they excel the most: speed!

Our hats go off to Valentino Rossi, who struggled in winter testing to some degree and raced hard to finish in third. He was persistent and never gave up even when he was under attack from other riders and being pushed to the edge of the circuit. “With the bike from this year I feel good. This time I was more competitive and I knew I could do a good race, but you never know if it‘s enough for the podium because we were with ten strong riders. I tried to push from the beginning, because I started from the third row and on the first lap I was able to overtake some guys. The other key point were the final laps, when like last year the strongest on the track were Dovizioso and Marquez. I knew they had enough to change the rhythm, but I‘m very happy that I could go with them today and arrive at the finish line close to them, at the end. Unfortunately, it was not enough for the victory, but the podium is a great way to start.” The boost and confidence Rossi obtained from this result is an essential ingredient to move towards a potential 10th World Championship. The stage has been set for a jaw dropping and heart pumping season throughout all three motorcycle classes. Next up, Argentina, where the hunt for the number one position continues!

(C) Movistar Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team

(C) Ducati Corse Press

(C) Repsol Honda MotoGP Team

About The Author

Myanna Wedes

Myanna has an incredible grasp and knowledge of the sport in detail and continues to secure lead stories every week. She is in constant contact with team and rider media management. She is an admitted lawyer with two degrees and is currently writing a biography on Alan Jones MBE 1980 F1 World Champion. She is a fond lover of two wheel motorsport, predominantly MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3.