Andrea Dovizioso has taken another last corner race win over Marc Marquez to kick start the 2019 MotoGP season, winning against his rival from last season at the Qatar Grand Prix. Brit Cal Crutchlow was an excellent third, returning to MotoGP action after his serious injury last year with a podium finish.
Dovizioso said: "I'm super happy about this win, especially because after the tests I wouldn't have expected to be so fast. We stayed focused and we made progress in each session. Our strategy in the race was simply to preserve the tyre, and this made the difference, but it wasn't easy because I led for most of the race and I couldn't really study my opponents. Marquez gave it everything he could, as usual, and pushed me to the limit.
“We made the most of our strengths, that is, acceleration and top speed, but we still need to improve our corner speed. This year there are plenty of quick riders and it'll be crucial not to lose too many points on less favourable tracks. We need to keep our feet on the ground and continue working in this direction."
Crutchlow was delighted with his pace, saying afterwards: “It’s great to even be back racing in MotoGP, let alone come away with a podium finish, but my LCR Honda Castrol Team did a great job. We worked hard this weekend because the tests were a bit of a waste of time for me. This weekend has been difficult, and if you had asked me after warm-up if I’d finish on the podium I would have laughed! I played my cards in the race, I felt good and once we started the race myself and Marc Marquez had similar tactics - saving the rear tyre and managing things a little bit more.”
Alex Rins was fourth after dicing with Crutchlow for most of the race, while Valentino Rossi made a spirited comeback to end up in fifth and top Yamaha despite a poor qualifying. Danilo Petrucci, Maverick Viñales and rookie Joan Mir rounded out the top eight.