Marquez, Rossi and Pedrosa on the First MotoGP Podium of 2014

World Champion Marc Marquez starts his MotoGP title defense with a victory in Qatar, beating Valentino Rossi in a close battle, with Dani Pedrosa third.

The excitement unfolded from the start of the race when Jorge Lorenzo moved to the front of the pack at turn one but crashed out of the lead seconds later at turn 15, destroying the new Movistar Yamaha before the first lap was complete. Lorenzo’s crash put Stefan Bradl in the lead with Marc Marquez, still recovering from his broken right leg, in second. Bradl led for several laps before going down on the eighth. This set the scene for the 1-2 battle between Marquez and Lorenzo’s Movistar Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi.

Jorge Lorenzo:_ "I made a mistake, it was a long time ago that I last did that in a race! We are not perfect; we are only human and sometimes we make mistakes. The tires were different from last year and the temperature of the tarmac was a little colder. I didn’t take these circumstances into account and I was too fast into the corner when the front and rear tire were not ready yet.”_

Marquez and Rossi diced it out to the last lap and it was Marquez outpacing Rossi by 0.25s for the checkered – with Marquez’s Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa three seconds back to complete the podium. Marquez' win marks Honda’s 250th in MotoGP, the first manufacturer to reach that milestone.

Marc Marquez: “The battle with Valentino was the best part of the race besides the win, I really enjoyed it! The 25 points are important but it’s also been an important race, because I was coming back from an injury that caused me to miss most of the pre-season. Also, this weekend there were a lot of riders up at the front, all with a great pace, and seeing how the race went, this win is a big one.” __ [Dani Pedrosa: “Third place is a positive result. We've finished on the podium this weekend at a circuit that’s difficult for me, because it isn't well suited to my style. So it's a good way to start. We were close, but with the way the race went - with so many crashes - it was important to finish. So from here on in we will try to keep improving and try to fight for the win at the next race.”

Valentino Rossi

 Valentino Rossi: "I’m very happy but a little bit upset because I lost. Marc is very strong and I enjoyed very much the whole race. It was a great race, very funny from the beginning, I started from behind and I had to take risks in the first laps. I was very precise and didn't make any mistakes. At the end I played my card with Marc but he was stronger than me so he won and he deserved it.”

An excellent ride for Aleix Espargaro saw him take fourth on his debut for NGM Forward Racing on their ‘Open’ Yamaha. Espargaro cashed in on the crashes of Alvaro Baustista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini) and Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) as they fell out of the podium hunt.

Aleix Espargaro

Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow did well in fifth and sixth respectively for Ducati Team, though Crutchlow finished 16 seconds behind his teammate after almost running out of fuel on his debut for the Italian factory.

Andrea Dovizioso: “We have to look at the positive aspects of this result, because in view of the championship a fifth place is always important. But another important objective for us was to reduce the gap to the winner, and we managed to cut that down by half from last year, and that’s another important fact. We still have understeer problems that condition our performance in the race, but I am pleased with the progress we’ve made so far, even though we still have to work hard to improve our bike.” [ Andrea Dovizioso, Cal Crutchlow Cal Crutchlow: “It was a bittersweet race for me. Finishing in sixth place is a good result, I needed to repay the boys with a finish because they worked hard after the warm-up, when I crashed out. In the race, from lap 5 onwards, we had an electrical problem: the transponder wasn’t working, the dash switched off and the bike began to behave strangely. I was pleased to be competitive until mid-way with Aleix and Dovi but I struggled to finish the race because the problem got worse towards the end. However it was important to get this race distance under our belt for Ducati and come away from here in not too bad a shape.”

A good first premier class race for Scott Redding (GO&FUN Honda Gresini) saw him beat fellow ‘Open’ Honda equipped rider Nicky Hayden (Drive M7 Aspar) to seventh by a 0.035s margin.

Scott Redding: “I am very happy. I was expecting to be able to follow [Nicky] Hayden for a few laps, not for the entire race and even beat him. In the first laps I wanted to exploit the potential of the softer tire and I was pretty aggressive, making some moves. At that point I followed Hayden for a lot of laps, then I felt that he let me pass, only to overtake me soon after. I knew, however, that I could be faster than him, so in the latter part of the race I tried to overtake him on the fast sector, with a big move, then I pushed as much as I could for the last two laps. We reached our goal, which was to be the best Open class Honda.” [ Scott Redding

The top ten was rounded out by Hayden’s compatriot Colin Edwards (NGM Forward Racing), riding his first race as a 40 year-old, and Andrea Iannone (Pramac Racing) who recovered well from a fall on the last corner of lap two. A mistake from rookie Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) with five laps to go saw him drop down to 15th and then pit shortly after.


Grand Prix of Qatar **- **Round 1

Pos. Rider Num. Nation Points Team Manufacturer Time/Gap
1 Marc Marquez 93 ESP 25 Repsol Honda Team HONDA 42'40.561
2 Valentino Rossi 46 ITA 20 Yamaha Factory YAMAHA +0.259
3 Dani Pedrosa 26 ESP 16 Repsol Honda Team HONDA +3.370
4 Aleix Espargaro 41 ESP 13 NGM Mobile Forward Racing YAMAHA +11.623
5 Andrea Dovizioso 4 ITA 11 Ducati Team DUCATI +12.159
6 Cal Crutchlow 35 GBR 10 Ducati Team DUCATI +28.526
7 Scott Redding 45 GBR 9 Go & Fun Honda Gresini HONDA +32.593
8 Nicky Hayden 69 USA 8 Drive M7 Aspar HONDA +32.628
9 Colin Edwards 5 USA 7 NGM Mobile Forward Racing YAMAHA +39.547
10 Andrea Iannone 29 ITA 6 Pramac Racing DUCATI +43.360
11 Hiroshi Aoyama 7 JPN 5 Drive M7 Aspar HONDA +46.595
12 Yonny Hernandez 68 COL 4 Pramac Racing DUCATI +46.688
13 Karel Abraham 17 CZE 3 Cardion AB Motoracing HONDA +50.581
14 Danilo Petrucci 9 ITA 2 IodaRacing Project IODA-SUTER +1'03.127
15 Broc Parkes 23 AUS 1 Paul Bird Motorsport PBM +1'14.386
16 Michael Laverty 70 GBR Paul Bird Motorsport ART & PBM +1'32.593
17 Mike Di Meglio 63 FRA Avintia Racing MotoGP FTR-KAWASAKI +1'36.085
18 Alvaro Bautista 19 ESP Go & Fun Honda Gresini HONDA DNF
19 Bradley Smith 38 GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YAMAHA DNF
20 Pol Espargaro 44 ESP Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YAMAHA DNF
21 Stefan Bradl 6 GER LCR Honda MotoGP HONDA DNF
22 Hector Barbera 8 ESP Avintia Racing MotoGP FTR-KAWASAKI DNF
23 Jorge Lorenzo 99 ESP Yamaha Factory Racing YAMAHA DNF