Valentino Rossi started his twentieth Grand Prix season with a sensational victory after holding off Andrea Dovizioso in a gripping finale at Losail. Rossi combined blistering pace and supreme tactics to defeat the powerful Ducatis with Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone joining him on the podium as Marc Marquez trailed home in fifth.
Marquez appeared to be the overwhelming favourite heading into the race despite qualifying third but the reigning champion threw any hopes of victory away at the start when he skated off at turn one, falling to the back of the field. Jorge Lorenzo looked set to take full advantage after grabbing the lead on lap two but it soon became apparent that the Ducatis wouldn’t be dropped as Dovizioso and Iannone shadowed the Movistar Yamaha.
Starting from the third row, Rossi found progress difficult in the early stages with Yonny Hernandez leading a four man group disputing fourth spot. Dani Pedrosa and Bradley Smith struggled initially to overhaul the Ducati but Rossi sliced through the pack, overtaking the trio in a single lap to take fourth but a 2.3s gap separated him from the leading trio.
With clear tarmac ahead of him, Rossi immediately set the fastest lap of the race and by half distance, ‘The Doctor’ was already challenging Iannone for third, scything past at the final corner. While his teammate was closing in, Lorenzo was busy swapping the lead with Dovizioso as the Ducati regularly outdragged the Yamaha down the pit straight only for Jorge to fight back in the twisty sections of the circuit. ‘Dovi’ finally got the better of Jorge on lap nineteen but Rossi followed him straight past Lorenzo’s no.99 machine, setting up a head-to-head between the two Italians.
Rossi went on the offensive straight away, diving through at turn twelve, one of the YZR-M1’s strongest parts of the circuit, but Dovizioso would regain the lead when the GP15 unleashed its strength, unrivalled straight line speed. Rossi wrestled the advantage away from the Ducati again at turn three on the penultimate lap and despite being shadowed around the last lap, Rossi had just enough in hand to hang on out of the last corner, winning by 0.174s.
Iannone pipped Lorenzo to the final podium place with Marquez making a brave recovery to salvage fifth ahead of his teammate Dani Pedrosa. Cal Crutchlow edged out Bradley Smith for the honour of top Briton and top satellite rider while Pol Espargaro demoted the Ducati of Hernandez to tenth.
2015 Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar: Race Result (22 Laps)
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