MotoGP Qatar: Andrea Dovizioso prevails in thriller to win opening race of 2019

Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso held off Repsol Honda rider Marc Marquez to win the opening MotoGP race of 2019 at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.
Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso held off Repsol Honda rider Marc Marquez to win the opening MotoGP race of 2019 at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.

Italy’s Andrea Dovizioso claimed victory in the opening MotoGP race of the season yesterday after a last-lap showdown with reigning champion Marc Marquez in Qatar.

In a thrilling duel, the Mission Winnow Ducati rider edged the verdict at the Losail International Circuit by only 0.023s from Spaniard Marquez, with British rider Cal Crutchlow sealing the final rostrum spot on the LCR Castrol Honda as the top three were separated by only three-tenths-of-a-second.

Ecstar Suzuki’s Alex Rins took fourth by a whisker from Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha) under the floodlights at the desert circuit, with Danilo Petrucci rounding out the top six on the second of the factory Ducati machines.

Dovizioso, who qualified second quickest, swapped places with Marquez on the final lap but managed to prevail as they dashed to the line in a repeat of the battle between the pair in 2018.

The jubilant race winner said: “I’m so happy because before the weekend the feeling was so bad.

“I didn't have the feeling, but if you stay calm and work in the right way with the team then this can happen.”

Marquez ran wide on a few occasions as he battled with Dovizioso, but the Honda rider was more than happy with his runner-up finish.

“It was exactly the same as last year,” said Marquez.

“I tried to push hard but here when you overtake you just run wide and you can’t keep the line.

“I tried to be there, to push a little and just be there until the end. I’m very happy with these 20 points because normally we struggle here and this weekend especially we worked a lot,” he added.

“We changed some things that meant I couldn’t push like I normally do in braking. But we finished the race and take good points.”

Marquez’s new team-mate, former champion Jorge Lorenzo, finished 13th on his race debut for the Repsol Honda team. The Spanish rider battled through the pain barrier after hurting his back and shoulder following two heavy spills in practice and qualifying on Saturday.