Yamaha MotoGP‘s Valentino Rossi opened the 2015 MotoGP season with a stunning victory at the Grand Prix of Qatar. Rossi had an all-out battle with Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso during the closing stages of the race, but experience prevailed giving Rossi the 83rd MotoGP victory of his career.
The nine-time World Champion gave fans a thrilling finish to the first round of the season, as he battled for the race win with the Desmosedici GP15 of Dovizioso. Rossi, who started from 8th on the grid, picked his way through the field before chasing down the leading trio of Jorge Lorenzo, Andrea Iannone and Dovizioso with 14 laps to go.
The Italian moved into second place with just three laps remaining, before commencing an epic duel with the resurgent Ducati Team GP15 of Dovizioso. In an enthralling finish to the race, both riders were constantly overtaking each other as they fought tooth and nail, but it was Rossi on the Movistar Yamaha YZR-M1 who prevailed.
“This was my best ride ever!” Rossi said after the race. “In the last three seasons, I always rode solid races and arrived on the podium but to come back with a victory is another thing. I am so happy because we suffered a lot during the practices and also the tests, but we worked very well for the 22-lap race and I was very strong. First of all you have to be lucky, but especially the work that we do with the team during the weekend makes the difference for my pace in the race,” he added.
Dovizioso finished just 0.174 of a second behind Rossi at second place, after proving that the new GP15 bike is more than just a “one lap wonder,” although he admitted he was gutted to miss out on the win. “Actually I am not that happy, as to finish one-tenth behind Valentino. I mean we’re so close so we wanted the victory. But we have to think about the reality of the bike, we have hardly put any kilometers on it, so to finish so close to the leader, it was a special moment for us,” he added.
His teammate Iannone made it two Ducatis in the top three as he finished third, completing an all-Italian podium at Qatar, after seeing off the challenge of Jorge Lorenzo. It was the first MotoGP podium for the man who made the move to the Factory Ducati Team this season, and you could tell he was pleased. “It’s my first podium, and so I am very emotional. I am very happy, because we were very strong in the race and I have a very good feeling with the bike,” he added.
Iannone also seemed to be confident for the season ahead. “I am sure that the GP15 has good pace and it’s fantastic at the moment, a lot of riders thought we would be quick on the soft tire, but we hardly used it all during testing,” he added.
Reigning MotoGP Champion Marc Marquez got the defense of his title off to the worst possible start as he ran wide at the very first corner, and had to make his way back through the field, after rejoining the race in last position.
The next round will be held at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in the United States on April 12.