Andrea Dovizioso made the perfect start to the 2018 MotoGP season by defeating Marc Marquez in a thrilling last-lap battle in Qatar. Last year’s title rivals brought back memories of their sensational duels in Austria and Japan with Dovizioso getting the better of the reigning champion at the final corner for the third time.
Expectations were high for a competitive fight at the front and for much of proceedings, eight riders made up the leading group. Polesitter Johann Zarco led away from pole position early on with Valentino Rossi giving chase but a failed attempt to snatch the lead on lap six saw the Yamaha man overtaken by Marquez and Dovizioso, relegating him to fourth ahead of Cal Crutchlow, Danilo Petrucci and Dani Pedrosa.
The pack had also contained Alex Rins but the Suzuki rider’s impressive weekend ended in unfortunate fashion with a crash at turn two on lap thirteen, the same lap that saw the end of Jorge Lorenzo at turn four. Zarco’s hopes of victory ended at the same corner twelve months ago and the Frenchman held on valiantly until five laps from home when Ducati power eased Dovizioso’s path into the lead. Marquez quickly the no.04 through into second, while Rossi regained third five corners later to signal Zarco’s fall to the rear of the group.
Dovizioso’s first lap in clear air was the fastest of the entire race but despite the quicker pace, Marquez remained in touch until the very last corner when the Honda rider dived up the inside, recognising that the RC213V was unable to out-drag the Ducati to the finish line. Just as he was at the Red Bull Ring and Motegi though, Dovi was wise to move and ducked back underneath the no.93, securing him an eighth MotoGP win.
Rossi came home a close third ahead of Crutchlow with Petrucci taking fifth after gambling on the soft front tyre. After a disastrous start, Maverick Vinales recovered from thirteenth to salvage sixth, passing Pedrosa on the final lap, with Zarco tumbling all the way back to eighth. Andrea Iannone brought the sole remaining Suzuki home in ninth with Jack Miller rounding out the top ten for Pramac.
2018 Grand Prix of Qatar: (Race Result)
|1||4. Andrea Dovizioso||Ducati||Ducati Team||42:34.654||25|
|2||93. Marc Marquez||Honda||Repsol Honda Team||+0.027||20|
|3||46. Valentino Rossi||Yamaha||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||+0.797||16|
|4||35. Cal Crutchlow||Honda||LCR Honda Castrol||+2.881||13|
|5||9. Danilo Petrucci||Ducati||Alma Pramac Racing||+3.821||11|
|6||25. Maverick Vinales||Yamaha||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||+3.888||10|
|7||26. Dani Pedrosa||Honda||Repsol Honda Team||+4.621||9|
|8||5. Johann Zarco||Yamaha||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||+7.112||8|
|9||29. Andrea Iannone||Suzuki||Team Suzuki ECSTAR||+12.957||7|
|10||43. Jack Miller||Ducati||Alma Pramac Racing||+14.594||6|
|11||53. Tito Rabat||Ducati||Reale Avintia Racing||+15.181||5|
|12||21. Franco Morbidelli||Honda||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||+16.274||4|
|13||19. Alvaro Bautista||Ducati||Angel Nieto Team||+19.788||3|
|14||55. Hafizh Syahrin||Yamaha||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||+20.299||2|
|15||17. Karel Abraham||Ducati||Angel Nieto Team||+23.287||1|
|16||12. Thomas Luthi||Honda||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||+24.189|
|17||30. Takaaki Nakagami||Honda||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||+24.554|
|18||38. Bradley Smith||KTM||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||+31.704|
|19||41. Aleix Espargaro||Aprilia||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||+34.712|
|20||45. Scott Redding||Aprilia||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||+37.641|
|21||10. Xavier Simeon||Ducati||Reale Avintia Racing||+46.706|
|NC||44. Pol Espargaro||KTM||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||+7 Laps|
|NC||42. Alex Rins||Suzuki||Team Suzuki ECSTAR||+10 Laps|
|NC||99. Jorge Lorenzo||Ducati||Ducati Team||+10 Laps|