Image copyright: Bleacher Report
Andrea Dovizioso began the season with last-lap thriller, wining the Grand Prix of Qatar.
The Ducati rider edged Honda’s reigning world champion to the line by a mere 0.027 of a second, extending his record in last-lap showdowns over the Spaniard to 3-0 in the past 12 months.
Marquez did try but Dovizioso tried harder. Dovizioso fired into the last corner, so Marques was second ont he podium, while Valentino Rossi trailing the duo across the line in the final podium position.
Dovizioso said :“It was a perfect race, perfect weekend,”right from claiming his first MotoGP win under the lights in Qatar after three times ending up as the bridesmaid.
“We did a really bad start but I was calm. I recovered very slowly and saved a lot the tyres and was able to push at the end.
“As always with Marc, the last lap is very difficult but I was able to beat him again.”
Cal Crutchlow was the first of the independent riders home in fourth, while Jack Miller began his season with a 10th place finish.
Both Dovizioso and Rossi had to overcome lowly starting positions, lining up fifth and eight respectively on the grid behind pole man Johann Zarco.
The French Tech 3 Yamaha rider blitzed away from his rivals from the moment the lights went out.
Apart from a brief bobble at the last corner on the opening tour that allowed Marquez ahead, Zarco headed a train of riders for much of the first half of the race.
A stellar start from Rossi saw him leap to fourth by the first time back past the start-finish line, picking off Pedrosa a couple of laps later to move to third, before edging past Marquez soon after to make it a Yamaha 1-2.
The other factory Yamaha was not flying so high; Maverick Vinales slipped to 15th in the early laps but would come on strong as the race went on.
Dovizioso was another who made steady progress up the leaderboard, he and Marquez both swooping past Rossi into Turn 1 as the field began Lap 11, before the Ducati picked off the Honda a lap later.
Lap 13 was a dramatic one.
Image copyright:Ultimate Motorcycling
The sixth place was taken from Danilo Petrucci by Alex Rins who crashed out,then the Suzuki rider having sat comfortably inside the leading group all race.
Then Jorge Lorenzo went down a few corners later, ending a difficult weekend with a strange crash out of 10th place.
Zarco contined to lead the battling Dovizioso and Marquez until five laps to go, when they blew past the black Yamaha into Turn 1.
Rossi followed suit a few corners later, the Frenchman beginning a slide down the field that would see him cross the line an distant eighth.
From there it was a battle between two, Marquez stalking the sole remaining factory Ducati until making his move at the final corner, only to run wide and allow the red bike to outdrag him to the line.
Their quarrel allowed Rossi to close to 0.7s at the flag, with Crutchlow a further two seconds away.
Petrucci converted his front-row start to a fifth place ahead of the charging Vinales, who’d picked off Dani Pedrosa and Zarco on the penultimate lap and could conceivably reached the podium had he not run out of laps.
Iannone won his battle with Miller for ninth in the closing stages, forcing his way past the Australian four laps from home.
Tito Rabat, leading rookie Franco Morbidelli, Alvaro Bautista, Hafizh Syahrin, and Czech veteran Karel Abraham rounded out the points-paying positions.
Image copyright: MCN
Tom Luthi finished his first MotoGP race in 16th eahed of fellow rookie Takaaki Nakagami and Bradley Smith, the only KTM home in his 200th world championship race start.
An unlucky Aleix Espargaro came home 19th after a fuelling issue took him out of 11th on the final lap, coasting over the line just ahead of Aprilia teammate Scott Redding.
Xavier Simeon was the last rider classified, bringing his Ducati home 21st in his home grand prix.
Along with crashers Rins and Lorenzo, Pol Espargaro was the other retirement. The same electrical gremlin that afflicted his KTM in qualifying took him out of 16th place with eight laps to go.