Published: Sun, March 18, 2018
Sports | By Jonathan Ford

Dovizioso wins frenetic 2018 MotoGP season opener in Qatar

Dovizioso wins frenetic 2018 MotoGP season opener in Qatar

Pole sitter Johann Zarco was the early race leader and led a closeknit group of eight riders for the opening half of the race with Marquez and Rossi taking turns to follow the Frenchman.

When the red lights go out on Sunday night at the Losail International Circuit, 30 minutes north of Doha, for the start of the 15th Qatar Grand Prix, it will be the 12th time this race this race has opened the series and the 11th time it will be held under spotlights.

Movistar Yamaha's Valentino Rossi finished in third, which was rather impressive as well.

With just under a second in the gap ahead of Rossi is was about if Marquez could finally beat Dovizioso on a last lap battle after coming off second best in Austria and Japan past year.

"This year I think we have the right situation".

The Italian had been in good form in practice and qualifying and it was surprising that he started fifth on the grid. "We have everything from my side, and from the bike side", Dovizioso said. "I recovered very slowly and saved a lot the tyres and was able to push at the end", added the Italian. "But I want to do better than just finish", he said.

"First of all, I am really happy to finish second on this track, it is one of the most hard", said Marquez.

But he was finally overtaken by both Marquez and Dovizioso on the main straight at the start of the 18th tour, and dropped like a stone from that point on, coming home in eighth place. "I was happy to lead the race, many laps, happy also that it was under control, [albeit] not fast enough to go away".

"So we have to continue working, trying to simulate a little bit the bike from the beginning of previous year - the positive points - and let's see what we can do".

The championship will start on 18 March and end on 18 November - exactly 8 months - making it the longest season in history and with the latest end date.

However the Italian said he was unconvinced his victory had put down a marker for the rest of the season, and still expected several riders to challenge for this year's world championship.

Jorge Lorenzo, Andrea Iannone, Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa, Cal Crutchlow, Rossi and Zarco are the remaining riders who will advance directly to Q2. The QMMF President presented a memento to the FIM chief who is in the country to watch the Grand Prix of Qatar that takes place at LIC today.

Last year's victor in Doha, Maverick Vinales, took sixth on a Yamaha.

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