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Rossi beats Ducati for first Yamaha win

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi pulled off a sensational display of riding to claim victory in at the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar.

The nine-time World Champion rolled back the years to provide MotoGP fans with a thrilling finish to the first round of the season, as he battled for the race win with the Desmosedici GP15 of Andrea Dovizioso. Rossi, who started from 8th on the grid, picked his way through the field before chasing down the leading trio of Jorge Lorenzo, Andrea Iannone and Dovizioso with 14 laps to go.

The Italian moved into 2nd place with just three laps remaining, before commencing an epic duel with the resurgent Ducati Team GP15 of Dovizioso. In an enthralling finish to the race, both riders were constantly overtaking each other as they fought tooth and nail, but it was Rossi on the Movistar Yamaha YZR-M1 who came out on top to claim the 83rd MotoGP win of his career. Rossi, chatting to after the race, claimed: “This was my best battle ever!”

Andrea Dovizioso finished just 0.174s behind Rossi in 2nd place, after proving that the new GP15 bike is more than just a “one lap wonder,” although he admitted he was gutted to miss out on the win: “Actually I am not that happy, as to finish one-tenth behind Valentino…I mean were so close so we wanted the victory. But we have to think about the reality of the bike, we have hardly put any kilometres on it, so to finish so close to the leader, it was a special moment for us.” The Italian went on state just how important it was for the team to be back challenging for a race win: “This is a special result for Ducati and for me, after everything we have been through in the last few years, and it rewards the work that we have done together to arrive at this point."

His teammate Iannone made it two Ducatis in the top three as he finished 3rd, completing an all-Italian podium in Qatar, after seeing off the challenge of Jorge Lorenzo. It was the first MotoGP podium for the man who made the move to the Factory Ducati Team this season, and you could tell he was pleased: “It’s my first podium, and so I am very emotional. I am very happy, because we were very strong in the race and I have a very good feeling with the bike.” He also seemed to be confident for the season ahead: “I am sure that the GP15 has good pace and it’s fantastic at the moment, a lot of riders thought we would be quick on the soft tyre, but we hardly used it all during testing.”

Jorge Lorenzo was involved with a race long battle with the two GP15’s as he struggled to cope with the straight-line pace of the Ducatis: “On the speed and in braking the Ducati was much stronger than our bike, but we could recover on corner speed while the acceleration was similar.” Lorenzo was in the mix for the race win before he faded towards the end and having to settle for 4th, explaining that: “I was feeling better and better, but suddenly there was something wrong when in the top part of the helmet the foam came loose and came down so I lost half of my vision. I couldn‘t see the corners very well and couldn‘t concentrate or ride like before and I was losing half a second or more per lap.”

Reigning MotoGP Champion Marc Marquez got the defence of his title off to the worst possible start as he ran wide at the very first corner, and had to make his way back through the field, after rejoining the race in last position. In typical Marquez style he didn't mess about, and managed to claw his way back to a credible 5th in an effort to lessen any damage done to his championship hopes. He said: “We should be happy because we have salvaged eleven important points, when we could easily have left here with none. It was a tough race, in which I made a mistake at the first corner and dropped back to last place. This meant that I had to make a comeback, pushing hard all through the race, but in the end I saw that I could not catch the group at the front.”

The next race in the 2015 MotoGP season is the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas on 12 April.

Full result:

Race - Qatar

Race - Qatar

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