MotoGP: Dovizioso fends off Marquez attack for stunning Qatar win

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Andrea Dovizioso took victory in a dramatic opening Grand Prix of 2018 after fending off a last corner attack from Marc Marquez in Qatar.

The Italian, who was tipped to win after showing frightening race pace throughout practice, got off to a steady start in the early part of the race before progressing through the field and using the Ducati GP18’s sheer power to shoot past long-time race leader Johann Zarco.

Polesitter Zarco took the holeshot to comfortably lead the first 18 laps despite brief attempts by Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi to take over at the front.  

When Dovi took the lead with five to go, he was unable to gap the two multiple world champions behind with both Marquez and Rossi in touch until the end.

Never one to give in, Marquez threw a trademark last corner move on the Italian on the final lap but the Ducati would again come out on top on the drive to the line to win by 0.027 seconds.

Maintaining his surprise pace until the end, Rossi crossed the line to complete the podium ahead of leading independent rider Cal Crutchlow on the LCR Honda.

Danilo Petrucci finished fourth for Pramac Ducati ahead of the second Movistar Yamaha of Maverick Vinales, who valiantly fought through the pack in the closing stages of the race after finding himself out of the points on the first few laps.

Dani Pedrosa finished his 200th MotoGP race seventh ahead of Zarco, who had seemingly cooked his Michelin rubber while leading for the first two thirds of the race.

Andrea Iannone was ninth for Suzuki while Jack Miller rounded out the top ten.

While there was elation on one side of the Ducati garage, the same couldn’t be said for the other as Jorge Lorenzo crashed out of the opening race after battling for a top ten result.

Franco Morbidelli finished top rookie for the Estrella Galicia Marc VDS squad in 12th with Hazifh Syahrin impressing in his debut Grand Prix to finish in the points in 14th on the second Monster Tech 3 Yamaha.

Britain’s Bradley Smith finished 18th as KTM struggled at the opening round of the year with countryman Scott Redding down in a dismal 20th on his debut with the factory Aprilia squad. 

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Oli Rushby

By Oli Rushby

Former sports reporter covering British Superbikes, World Superbikes and road racing