The 2015 season’s first MotoGP at Qatar ended as an exciting competition with Yamaha Movie-star’s veteran Valentino Rossi ending at the top, closely followed by the Ducati duo of Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone. While Ducati’s winter improvement program had promised a resurgence of Dovizioso and Iannone, Rossi made it sensational in the end by bringing in his classic best. The nine-time world champion utilized his mastery in the race craft by timing his sudden assault to perfection. With hardly any time left, Rossi pushed his YZR-M1 and took over from Pole-man Dovizioso on Lusail’s international circuit and set up a grandstand finish. The end was as thrilling as any MotoGP event could produce with reigning champion Marc marquez far away from the podium finish after his bike crashed. The champion however, recovered to take the fifth position as he didn’t want to throw caution to the winds. In the first race of the new MotoGP season at the tricky 22-lap Losail circuit of the Qatar desert, everyone wanted to see if Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso could turn his pole position into a winning finish. He did his best and nearly met those expectations but Rossi had other ideas. Rossi’s victory was his first in the season-opening MotoGP race since 2010 and it was in defiance of his eighth position in the qualifying. For Marc Marquez, Losail was a disappointment but the champion rider didn’t want to read too much into the Qatar outcome. He stated afterwards that he would fight for victory in the next race in Austin on April 12, 2015.
In the qualifying earlier, Andrea Dovizioso reaffirmed Ducati’s MotoGP resurgence by claiming the pole position for the Qatar Grand Prix season opener ahead of Honda’s Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez. Ducati insisted on the use of softer tyres in qualifying and it always looked likely that either Dovizioso or Iannone could be a pole winner at Losail. In the early stages of final qualifying, however, the Ducati duo trailed the Hondas. Dani Pedrosa even surprised teammate Marquez by finishing ahead of the champion. As for Dovizioso, he made a great leap in the final lap by covering it in 1m54.113s to pip Pedrosa by 0.217s. Marquez finished third but it turned out to be a great qualifying session for Ducati as three of the five top spots were claimed by them. With Dovizioso on top, Iannone took the fourth place and Yonny Hernandez came fifth. For Yamaha, it wasn’t a satisfactory finish as Jorge Lorenzo was sixth and Valentino Rossi was eighth behind the satellite Tech 3 bike of Bradley Smith.
On the floodlit Losail circuit on Sunday, the race had a dramatic beginning. In the first lap, defending champion Marc Marquez skidded off the track and found himself dead last as everyone else overtook him. However, Marquez hauled himself up and fought his way through the field later. It was pole man Dovizioso who hit the front from the start with Jorge Lorenzo right behind. Iannone was next followed by Pramac Ducati’s Yonny Hernandez, Bradley Smith, Pol Espargaro and Pedrosa. The other Repsol Honda man Pedrosa also made a strong start from his second place on front row but he was shunted back later in the race. From his eighth place, Valentino Rossi needed plenty of work to do because from second lap onwards, Dovizioso, Lorenzo and Iannone began to enhance the gap in the front. Jorge Lorenzo pushed his bike and went into the lead and remained there until the eighth lap with Dovizioso with Iannone in close pursuit. By lap 4, Rossi had started working his way ahead with Marc Marquez also taking the tenth spot. As the fourth lap ended, Pedrosa had progressed but Rossi had overtaken him to move to the fifth place behind Hernandez. As the race progressed, Rossi passed Hernandez and went after the leading trio of Lorenzo, Dovizioso and Iannone. After lap 8, Dovizioso was back to the top spot ahead of Lorenzo with Iannone and Rossi at third and fourth places. By this time, Marquez had taken the sixth place just behind teammate Pedrosa. The top two places were exchanged once again as Lorenzo and Dovizioso got involved in a neck-to-neck fight.
As the race began to heat up, Rossi passed Iannone and now he only trailed the duo of Lorenzo and Dovizioso. Meanwhile, Marquez had also passed Pedrosa for the fifth place but he was not able to challenge the leaders. With three laps remaining, Rossi had passed Lorenzo and he now had only Dovizioso to deal with. Iannone made another push and he snatched the third place from Lorenzo even as Rossi made his chase of Dovizioso hotter. The pair of Dovizioso and Rossi broke away from the pack at lap 20 and it became clear that only one of these two would finish as a winner. Unfortunately, Ducati ran wide at Turn 1 and Rossi was not to miss the golden chance as he went ahead. But the race was not over yet as the final lap saw Dovizioso using the speed of his ultra-rapid machine to breeze past Rossi. With just seconds remaining, Dovizioso drifted yet again and Rossi pulled away at the inside of Turn 1, to regain the top spot and produced a stunning last lap for a memorable victory.
Iannone finished third ahead of Lorenzo with the Honda pair of Marquez and Pedrosa at fifth and sixth places. Crutchlow was seventh, Smith eighth, Pol Espargaro ninth and Hernandez tenth.