Section: Losail (Qatar)

MotoGP: Valentino Rossi wins season opener in Qatar

Italian legend Valentino Rossi won the opening race of the 2015 MotoGP season in a thrilling finish in Qatar.

Yamaha’s Rossi, a seven-time MotoGP champion, claimed his 109th Grand Prix victory after the 36-year-old held off Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso.

Andrea Iannone on the Ducati made it an all-Italian podium, with Spain’s two-time defending champion Marc Marquez back in fifth place.

Britons Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith came seventh and eighth respectively.

Marquez won the opening 10 races in 2014 but made a dreadful start to the new season as he was forced off the track and slipped to the back of the field.

The 22-year-old fought his way back up to fifth but could not challenge Rossi, who began the race eighth on the grid but charged to the front.

Rossi, who won the last of his seven titles in 2009, and compatriot Dovizioso enjoyed a dramatic duel in the closing stages, with the former champion defending a small lead over the final two laps.

“This was one of the best victories for me,” said Rossi. “The bike was fantastic, I never gave up but it was a real fight with the Ducatis and the Hondas who were really strong.

“I’m so happy for me, for the team and for Yamaha. The second part of the race was really good and I’m very happy because we had difficulties in testing and practice but my experience helped today.

“This is a great, great victory but I had a good feeling this morning.”

Qatar MotoGP result:
1. Valentino Rossi (Ita) Yamaha
2. Andrea Dovizioso (Ita) Ducati
3. Andrea Iannone (Ita) Ducati
4. Jorge Lorenzo (Spa) Yamaha
5. Marc Marquez (Spa) Honda
6. Dani Pedrosa (Spa) Honda
7. Cal Crutchlow (GB) Honda
8. Bradley Smith (GB) Yamaha
9. Pol Espargaro (Spa) Yamaha
10. Yonny Hernandez (Col) Ducati
11. Aleix Espargaro (Spa) Suzuki
12. Danilo Petrucci (Ita) Ducati
13. Scott Redding (GB) Honda
14. Maverick Vinales (Spa) Suzuki
15. Hector Barbera (Spa) Ducati

Read more at BBC Sport

MotoGP: Andrea Dovizioso claimed a sensational pole position in Qatar

Ducati fill 3 of the top 5 positions on the grid for Sunday’s race in Qatar.

Andrea Dovizioso blitzed his way to pole in spectacular fashion as he took advantage of the softer tyre option to set a time two-tenths quicker than the rest of the field, and funnily enough, seemed quite pleased: “I am very happy because the pole today is the result of a group effort: after two years in which we have suffered, we finally managed to achieve a competitive motorbike, and I honestly did not think we would have been so fast right away with the GP15.”

One of the surprises of QP2 was the pace of Dani Pedrosa as he out-qualified his teammate Marc Marquez to finish in 2nd. The Spaniard was delighted to get onto the front row: “It was fantastic, because I think that it was one of my fastest laps at this track. It was vital to set a good lap time today, without making any mistakes, due to the fact that at this track all the times are very close together.”

Andrea Iannone was disappointed to miss out on a front row start on the second Ducati Team GP15, as he finished in 4th.

It was another disappointing day for the Movistar Yamaha’s of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, who will start tomorrow’s race in 6th and 8th place respectively

Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Bradley Smith, who only just made it through from Q1 with last lap of the session will start from 7th, admits he didn’t make it easy for himself

Cal Crutchlow, who ended the practice sessions 2nd fastest overall, crashed out at turn 14 and will have to start the race from the back of the fourth row: “Thankfully it’s just my pride that is hurt today, but obviously I’m not happy. I made a stupid mistake. The positive is that we were very fast and we had a great chance to get on the front row and my ideal time would have put us there. But hey, that’s racing! The other guys did a better qualifying and we were 12th.”

Read more at MotoGP

MotoGP: Crutchlow pulls off shock to finish 2nd behind Marquez

Marc Marquez finished on top of the combined timesheets after FP3 in Qatar, but it was Cal Crutchlow that caught everyone off guard.

The top ten riders in the combined standings make it through automatically to Qualifying 2, with the rest having to take part in Q1, with only the top two making it through to the second qualifying sesson. Therefore there was a lot to play for under the lights in the desert on Friday, as riders look to get their season off to a good start at the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of  Qatar.

If the timesheets are anything to go by we should be in for one hell of a race on Sunday, as less than a second separated the top 18 riders. It was a frantic end to the two days of Free Practice as riders left it until the last five minutes of FP3 before putting on fresh rubber to begin their flying laps.

Reigning World Champion Marquez finished on top of the combined timesheets, improving his time from the earlier in the evening in the final practice session, and finishing with a 1’54.822, beating Casey Stoner’s 2008 Circuit Record (1’55.153) by over three-tenths in the process. Marquez stating: “Today has been a very good day because we have improved our pace, which is the most important thing, and tried out a few things that have allowed us to progress.”

The big surprise of the day came from CWM LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow as the British rider put was the proverbial satellite cat amongst the factory pigeons. He managed to finish within 0.096s of Marquez in 2nd place overall, setting a incredible flying lap after admitting he had struggled early on during the final session. Crutchlow is not sure whether he will be battling for the race win on Sunday though, as he said: “I’m not sure today’s speed and lap-times are relative to where we will finish the race, but I hope it is!”

The Ducati Team used “winglets” on both of its riders bikes for the first time, after having previously only tried them on Andrea Dovizioso’s machine. Andrea Iannone set a time good enough for 3rd early on in FP3 before losing the front at turn 2 late on, ending his chances of improving further. Dovizioso could not match the pace of his teammate and had to settle for 6th place behind the Team Suzuki Ecstar GSX-RR of Aleix Espargaro (4th) and Dani Pedrosa’s Repsol Honda (5th). It wasn’t just the factory Ducati’s that improved from yesterday with Yonny Hernandez setting a time good enough for 7th place on his satellite Pramac Racing GP14.2.

A big shock from the final day of practice was the lack of pace of the Movistar Yamaha’s as Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi only just scraped through to Q2, finishing in 8th & 9th respectively. Lorenzo believes he will struggle in qualifying unless they make some changes: “It will be a hard fight for the front row tomorrow, because many riders have the extra soft tyre, that gives them four-tenths of a second. They are also stronger than last year, so it will even be difficult to get a position on the second row, but you never know what will happen. Maybe we can find something that will give us half a second and even let us fight for pole position.”

Read more at MotoGP

MotoGP: Qatar Test, Day 2: Dovizioso edges out Marquez

Reigning MotoGP champion splits factory Ducati riders Dovizioso and Iannone

Ducati’s dominance over the final MotoGP test of the year at the Losail International Circuit continued today with factory rider Andrea Dovizioso ending the day on top of the timing sheets while Marc Marquez was a close second and the Repsol Honda rider was followed closely into third place by the second factory Ducati in the hands of Andrea Iannone.

The second session got off to a similar start with Dovizioso and Iannone consistently in the top three but today it was Marquez who was at the front for the majority of the day but he was moved off the top with Dovizioso setting a fastest lap time of 1m 54.907s on his 33rdof 38 laps. Marquez’s best time of 1m 55.091s was just .013s ahead of Iannone in third.

Movistar Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo made small improvements today although the Spaniard’s best lap of 1m 55.500s came in just his 15th of 51 laps, this was in stark contrast to teammate Valentino Rossi who left it until his 50th lap to set the 5ht best time of 1m 55.581s while Dani Pedrosa sits in 6th today on the second of the Repsol Honda machines.

Cal Crutchlow once again showed good pace on board the CWM LCR Honda with the British rider continuing to grow in confidence on the factory machinery while his teammate Jack Miller ended his second day in 21st in the Open Class. Crutchlow’s best time of 1m 55.624s was enough to see him ahead of his fellow countryman Bradley Smith on the Tech 3 YZR-M1 whose best lap of 1m 55.648s was .010s ahead of his teammate Pol Espargaro in 9th and closing out the top ten today was AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham with a best time of 1m 55.765s.

Pramac Racing’s Yonny Hernandez was just outside the top ten with his best effort of 1m 55.772s while his teammate Danilo Petrucci didn’t fair so well with the Italian in 22nd. Team Suzuki Ecstar’s second day sees teammates Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales in 12th and 14th respectively with just .015s separating them and in between is the Estrella Galicia 0.0 Marc VDS rider Scott Redding with his best lap of 1m 55.803s.

The Open Class this year is gearing up to be one of the closest and the Avintia Racing and Drive M7 Aspar teams were locked in battle today with Hector Barbera and Mike Di Meglio in 15th and 17th respectively while Nicky Hayden and rookie Eugene Laverty sit in 16th and 18thpositions. Michele Pirro set the 19th best lap today for the Ducati Test Team while Stefan Bradl and the Athina Forward Racing team rounds off the top 20following a crash early on for the German rider.

Bradl’s teammate Loris Baz ended day two in 23rd position with his best time of 1m 56.936s enough to finish ahead of Aprilia Racing Team Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista while Octo Ioda Racing Team’s Alex e Angelis finished ahead of Marco Melandri and the second of the Aprilia machines in 26th place.

Read more at motorsport.com