The 2014 MotoGP season started on Sunday, the opening round taking place under the floodlights of Qatar’s Losail circuit. Last year’s champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) earned a hard-fought victory, especially impressive considering he’s returning from a broken leg that cut short his preseason.
Though Marquez had pole position, Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha) had a fantastic start from fifth on the grid and led through turn one. But the early lead didn’t last long as Lorenzo crashed out during the opening lap, allowing Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda) to move into first. Bradl’s hopes of a podium finish came to an end with 14 laps remaining as, like Lorenzo, the German suffered a crash that put him out of the race.
Marquez then moved into first with Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha) hounding him for the lead. What followed was MotoGP racing at its finest, the pair passing and re-passing each other several times during the final few laps. Marquez was able to hold off Rossi and win by 0.259 seconds, though the aging Italian had a fantastic ride as he improved from starting 10th on the grid to finishing second on the podium. Marquez’s Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa rounded out the rostrum, finishing 3.370 seconds behind.
“I’m very happy with the victory,” Marquez said. “Yesterday [during qualifying] I feel great, but on the race was the question mark. In the end I try to push, and the battle with Valentino was so great, I enjoyed it a lot. Last year I had the battle with Valentino and he won. This year we did it.”
“It was a great, great battle,” Rossi added with a smile, “but I enjoy a little bit less than him because I arrive behind.”
For full race results from the Qatar Grad Prix, click here.
The second round of MotoGP action takes place April 13 at The Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.