Maverick Viñales has delivered on his preseason promises by taking a stunning race victory in the opening round of the 2017 MotoGP world championship, after a rain-delayed race start and a fight to the chequered flag with Andrea Dovizioso and Valentino Rossi.
The Spaniard, who started from pole position, made a slow start to the race, once it finally got underway after rain showers that fell just as they first lined up on the grid saw a series of delays to the flag dropping.
And when it eventually did, it was Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rookie Johann Zarco who made a stunning start, leaving Dovizioso to battle with Marc Marquez and Andrea Iannone until first the Italian and then the Frenchman fell from contention, just as Viñales and Rossi surged through to take the fight to the Ducati rider, with Viñales snatching victory only on the last lap.
Marquez was fourth, ahead of teammate Dani Pedrosa and a stunning Aprilia debut for Aleix Espargaró, with Scott Redding, Jack Miller, and rookies Alex Rins and Jonas Folger rounding out the top ten. Jorge Lorenzo was a disappointing 11th on his Ducati debut after running wide in the early stages of the race.
Cal Crutchlow was a faller not once but twice from the race, dropping out of the top ten and sustaining enough damage to the bike to force a second crash when the throttle stuck open only a lap later. Fellow Brits Bradley Smith and Sam Lowes rounded out the field in last.