Andrea Dovizioso wins MotoGP opener in Qatar

Glen Norman
March 19, 2018

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

Italian Andrea Dovizioso won MotoGP's season-opening Qatar Grand Prix for Ducati on Sunday after a thrilling duel down to the line with Honda's reigning champion Marc Marquez.

As for FP3, Zarco was the only rider to break the 1m55s barrier, posting a time of 1m54.966s to pip Pramac Ducati rider Jack Miller by 0.497 seconds.

Dani Pedrosa was seventh, spending the majority of the race at the rear end of the leading group and he managed to pass long-time race leader Johann Zarco on the final lap relegating the Frenchman to eighth.

Nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi came home in third place on a Yamaha.

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.

Dovizioso said the pressure was on him going into the race, admitting there was an "obligation" for him to win in Qatar.

It is the third time Dovizioso has beaten Marquez by snatching the lead on the final bend.

"It was close in the last corner and I thought Dovi would overtake me before the finish line with the slipstream, which he did".

"It was a ideal race, flawless weekend", said Dovizioso.

Meanwhile, Malaysia's Moto2 duo Khairul Idham Pawi (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) and Zulfahmi Khairuddin (SIC Racing Team) both struggled to make an impact in qualifying and will start from 25th (2:02.433s) and 32nd (2:04.780s) respectively.

Rossi said he was happy with a podium finish, adding he wanted to follow it up with more this year.

"But then I knew that with a new tyre and light bike I feel good".

Danilo Petrucci set a lap just 0.005s slower than Marquez to take the final spot on the front row and end up the best of the Ducati runners on his Pramac-run GP18, while LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow edged out Dovizioso for fourth by two thousandths.

"Anyway, as I said, I am trying to get more confidence to get a bike I can ride, nothing more".

While there was elation on one side of the Ducati garage, the same couldn't be said for the other as Jorge Lorenzo crashed out of the opening race after battling for a top ten result.

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