Lorenzo starts title defence off with a bang

Reigning MotoGP world champion Jorge Lorenzo made the perfect start to his title defence by winning Sunday’s opening race of the season in Qatar.

The Yamaha rider withstood the early challenge from Ducati before taking control of the race and coasting to a pretty comfortable win.

Both Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso passed polesitter Lorenzo on the main straight at the end of the first lap.

The two Ducati riders started a battle at the front, exchanging the lead several times before Iannone fell at Turn 6 of lap six, ending his race.

Dovizioso held on to the lead for three more laps, but the pressure from Lorenzo behind eventually told, allowing the Spaniard to move around the outside and grab the lead. That proved to be the last time the race lead changed hands, with Lorenzo riding out the remaining 14 laps in front until he crossed the finish line two seconds clear of his nearest rival – an ominous sign for the season ahead.

Behind him, third-placed Marc Marquez forced his way past Dovizioso with three laps remaining, although he ultimately couldn’t hold onto second. Dovizioso got back in front of Marquez and held onto that position despite a final-lap duel between the two.

Valentino Rossi, meanwhile, came within 0.100s of pipping Marquez for the final podium spot, but had to settle for fourth. Dani Pedrosa and Maverick Vinales followed in fifth and sixth respectively after uneventful races. Cal Crutchlow crashed at Turn 4 on lap seven, allowing Pol Espargaro to finish seventh for Tech3 Yamaha.

Times

1 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 42m28.452s
2 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 2.019s
3 Marc Marquez Honda 2.287s
4 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 2.387s
5 Daniel Pedrosa Honda 14.083s
6 Maverick Vinales Suzuki 15.423s
7 Pol Espargaro Tech3 Yamaha 18.629s
8 Bradley Smith Tech3 Yamaha 18.652s
9 Hector Barbera Avintia Ducati 21.160s
10 Scott Redding Pramac Ducati 24.435s
11 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki 35.847s
12 Eugene Laverty Aspar Ducati 41.756s
13 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia 41.932s
14 Jack Miller Marc VDS Honda 41.982s
15 Tito Rabat Marc VDS Honda 54.953s
– Stefan Bradl Aprilia Retirement
– Loris Baz Avintia Ducati Retirement
– Cal Crutchlow LCR Honda Retirement
– Andrea Iannone Ducati Retirement
– Yonny Hernandez Aspar Ducati Retirement
– Danilo Petrucci Pramac Ducati Withdrawn

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