Andrea Dovizioso’s Ducati shone the brightest under Losail Circuit’s night lights amidst a fiery battle with the reigning champion Marc Marquez
Qatar Grand Prix marked the start of the 2018 MotoGP season and if initial indications are anything to go by, this too shall go down to the wire. Andrea Dovizioso crossed was the first to cross the finish line under the lights just meters ahead of Marc Marquez while nine-time champion Valentino Rossi finished in third followed by Cal Crutchlow and Danilo Petrucci.
Honda’s second fiddle Dani Pedrosa who briefly battled for a podium place at the start of the race, finished in P7 ahead of pole-sitter Johann Zarco who lead for most part of the race but lost his way in last few laps and had to eventually settle for 8th place. Andrea Iannone was the only Suzuki finisher in 9th place as his teammate Alex Rins crashed early on in the race. Alma Pramac Racing’s Jack Miller rounded off the top 10 in Doha.
Here are the four things that we learnt from the season’s first MotoGP race:
1. Marc Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso picked up from where they left off last season
The duo fought closely throughout the year with Marc Marquez eventually being crowned the winner. However, there were a number of close wheel-to-knee battles between the two where the Ducati rider often came out on top. Continuing this head-to-head winning streak, Dovizioso once again stayed ahead of Marquez and took the victory the Losail International Circuit on Sunday.
Thankfully, both the riders still respect each other equally and there isn’t any ugliness between the two unlike what we’ve seen in the past between the championship leaders. YET.
2. Rossi still has his mojo intact
The veteran ride recently signed a contract extension with Yamaha which will see him race till the end of 2020. And the critics who sniggered at this development were instantly reminded of the reason why. Vale is still riding better than the guys half his age and he’s still capable of scoring wins as well as fighting for championship. At the Qatar GP, the Doctor showed his mettle and brought home his bike in a respectable P3.
3. Johann Zarco needs better tyre management and some luck
Johann Zarco made the most of Saturday’s track record setting pole position, by leading the race for three-fourths of the distance but eventually his tyres gave way and he started losing places eventually finishing in P8 – a loss of seven places in a span of last five laps. It was later realized that there could’ve been a technical issue with his tyres. However, what’s not confirmed is whether the issue was compounded by the Tech3 Yamaha rider’s aggressive riding style or something else.
4. Jorge Lorenzo is still not comfortable on that Ducati
Jorge Lorenzo silenced the critics during the pre-season tests when he set blistering pace on his Ducati by cracking a new unofficial track time at the Sepang Circuit. However, when the lights went off on Sunday, the Spaniard barely looked edgy and wasn’t doing justice to his talent or to the bike which eventually went on to win the race in the hands of Dovizioso. Let’s hope he bounces back and fights up ahead at the front of the pack where he deserves to be.
As the action moves to the beautiful Argentine coast, it’ll be interesting to see if and how the championship order changes at the sharp end of the field.