MotoGP 2018: season opener in Qatar preview

Johann Zarco

Johann Zarco

Rookie Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah proved he belongs with the big boys after scoring commendable points finish on his MotoGP race debut at the season opening Qatar Motorcycle Grand Prix late on Sunday. As ten laps had been completed riders were getting into a rhythm, but you could sense action was on the horizon. 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.

Valentino Rossi says his Yamaha team made a step forward with the bike's troublesome electronics for the Qatar MotoGP race, in which he secured third place.

And he his did best to thwart the danger of Marquez and Dovizioso, before being pushed to third. At that moment, the coast seemed to be clear, but there was a certain Marc Marquez behind him who had never even considered giving up. In fact, the six-time world champion tried every which way but loose, putting it all on the line just as he had in Austria and Japan.

Britain s Cal Crutchlow came in fourth with Danilo Petrucci fifth.

Repsol Honda's Marquez led the rider line-up initially with a laptime of 1m54.368s, which was toppled by Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso, who completed a lap in 1m54.074s.

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"Actually the track has changed compared to the test here and we now have to adapt the setup of the bike in order to make the tyres working well", said Marquez. "But I want to do better than just finish", he said.

In the end, it was Ducati's superior straight speed and Dovizioso's tyre management that gave the Italian his ninth MotoGP career victory and first in Qatar.

It was a joyous day overall for Tech3 as Hafizh's teammate Johann Zarco of France took pole in a new record of 1:53.680s to erase the decade old mark of 1:53.927s, set by Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo. "But anyway tomorrow the race is long (with) many laps".

It is the third time Dovizioso has beaten Marquez by snatching the lead on the final bend. Dalla Porta, Niccolo Antonelli, Gabriel Rodrigo (KTM), Fabio di Giannantonio (Honda), Kaito Toba (Honda), Ayumu Sasaki (Honda), John Mcphee (KTM) and Marco Bezzecchi (KTM) took it right down to the line, with McPhee crashing out on the final lap.

And he was understandably disappointed after making ground on the leaders in the early part of the race.

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