Published: Sun, March 18, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Dovizioso wins frenetic 2018 MotoGP season opener in Qatar

Dovizioso wins frenetic 2018 MotoGP season opener in Qatar

Dovizioso put on a display of patience and tyre management to slowly move his way through the field after a poor first lap to take the lead from Johann Zarco with five laps left to run and Marquez followed him through to set up a last lap clash with nine-time king Valentino Rossi in third place. "First of all we do the first few races and then we will know".

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.

"I felt really good today (on Saturday)". But the Italian was shunted down to fifth in the final order amid a late flurry of improvements led by Zarco and Marquez. "It looks the pace is not the best one, but at least to start from pole is the best chance to catch a good result", Zarco said.

Pramac Ducati's Danilo Petrucci lost out to the LCR Honda man a little less than a second after he was told by his team to switch fuel maps.

"I didn't ride in a flawless way and I lost some time during my lap, I made some small mistakes and I paid for them, because my position is not fantastic, I'm just ninth", said 39-year-old Rossi who penned a new two-year Yamaha deal on Thursday.

'I am happy because normally in Qatar I have struggled quite a lot. But anyway tomorrow the race is long, many laps, time to be constant and try to manage, the 22-year-old Spaniard added.

"I was able to push at the end, even though the tyre was finished".

And so, all that was left for number 93 was to console himself with a second place finish: "I always give it my all, pushing 100% - the rider from Cervera said - This is a hard track for me, but I was able to get close to the win anyway". Karel Abraham was fifteenth with Tom Lüthi sixteenth on his Marc VDS Honda.

Zarco was the sole rider to break the 1m55s barrier in FP3, recording a 1m54.966s at the tail end of the session to go quickest 0.497 seconds from Pramac Ducati rider Jack Miller.

Aprilia duo Aleix Espargaro and Scott Redding trailed home 19th and 20th, although Espargaro ran out of fuel and dropped some 20 seconds on the final lap having run just outside the top 10 for much of the race.

"This year I think we have the right situation".

Earlier yesterday, Italian rider Niccolo Antonelli powered his Honda to the top spot in Moto3 qualifying, nailing the front berth on the grid with a time of 2'06.364 despite the track being hit by dust storms.

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