- Apr 8, 2014
It was a SICK race this sunday under the flood lights at the Losail circuit in Qatar, where veteran master racer Valentino Rossi46 achieved his 109th career victory onboard his Yamaha M1 after a come back and great battle with Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso04.
Qualifying was somewhat less exciting on saturday: M. Marquez93 tried hard to be on pole but ended up 3rd after his sand-bagging team mate Danny Pedrosa26 smashed through the time sheets on his first flying lap only to be beaten in the final seconds of the session by Dovizioso04 on board his GP15.
But lets get to the Race: Repsol Honda man and bookie favorite Marc Marquez93 had a terrible start! He found himself rejoining at the back of the field in 25th spot after running wide in turn 1 in order to avoid hitting the back of brit Bradley Smith38's bike. Nevertheless he had a great comeback to finish 5th just 7 seconds behind 1st place, that shows how amazing he is. According to the lap charts he had the pace to be up front battling with the top 4 but MotoGP is so tight this year one mistake can take you off the podium no matter how much of a physics god you are.
The top satellite driver was Cal Crutchlow35 on board his LCR Honda, he had it difficult though battling all race and coming from 14th place at one point all the way past the Tech3 Yamaha riders and satellite Pramac Ducati's Yonny Hernandez68 to finish in 7th place. Hernandez68 had an amazing race staying in the top 6 for the first half until his GP14.3 started to loose pace once the tyre grip dropped, ending in 10th place was still a great result for the Colombian.
Scott Redding45 finished down in 13th place, but stated he learned a lot while trying to keep up with Marquez93 (once he came past him deep as hell on the brakes), he saw that he couldn't get the bike to turn into the apex as Marc did and found where he was loosing time and needed to work on for the next rounds.
The Suzuki garage must've had mixed feelings: on one hand they finished 11th behind a bunch of satellite riders on the other they found out where they stand in race trim and 11th is not so bad when you have -20km/h top speed on the Losail huge front straight but they might do better once we get to shorter tracks (bad luck next round is in COTA.. which has 2 massively horsepower hungry straights).
The front battle was amazing, even better then the last 2 years when Marquez93 vs Rossi46 provided the entertainment. Andrea Dovizioso04 made a great start leading the pack through the first lap with Jorge Lorenzo99 and Andrea Iannone29 on his tail, once the Movistar Yamaha man was able to make a pass he led the race for a good amount of laps with Dovi04 studying his line closely and Iannone29 playing it smart: just following, saving tyres and keeping out of trouble. In the mean while the man on a mission was Valentino Rossi46 he had a "**** start" to quote one of his mechanics but once he was able to pass the satellite boys and Pedrosa26 he found some clear track in 4th position and was able to run his own pace (after the race he said they found something in the warm up session, his crew chief Silvano Galbusera was able to change the set up overnight from qualifying, change which gave him a better race pace, he understood then that he would be able to challenge for the podium).
And indeed his pace was astonishing! a VR46 trade mark, wheeling in the top 3 lap by lap catching them with less than 10 laps to go, by then Lorenzo99 and Dovizioso04 had exchanged 1st place a bunch of times with Iannone26 as a prime spectator. Rossi46 arrived on the back of the leading group, seemed to wait for a minute and catch his breath.. suddenly Dovizioso04 made a go for it taking the lead from Lorenzo99 and trying to brake away, the Yamaha man struggled to keep up but was able to catch him in the fast turns were the Ducati lost some of its tyre edge grip. This made Rossi46 react and start working on getting pass Iannone29 which took him some time but once he was able to Lorenzo99 had already used what was left of his grip to try and keep up with the Ducati, making it relatively easy for Rossi46 to pass him with 4 laps to go and start the battle vs Dovizioso04.
They took turns leading, while the Yamaha was faster on the turns the Ducati rocket took everything back on the start straight, yet it seemed that if the Yamaha could keep a small gap out of the last corner it could arrive first at the finish line. On the last lap it was a drag race to turn 1 with Rossi46 going DEEP on the brakes and making a lunge to the apex almost cutting Dovizioso04's nose off, Dovi pushed forward and could basically lick the back of the Yamaha through the first half of the lap but once the series of fast right corners in the second half came the Yamaha was able to use the edge grip the Ducati lacked and build up at least 2 bike lengths into the last corner, the rest is history! Rossi46 taking the checkered flag of his 109th career win at 36 years of age. What an AMAZING race.
While all that was going on, Iannone29 was able to pass a grip-less Jorge Lorenzo99 for 3rd and conquered a first podium on his first race as a Factory Ducati Rider, a great result for the young italian.
It was a crazy podium for the season opener: All Italian, 2 Ducati's in a dry race and Marc Marquez93 not on it. Gamblers either made or lost a lot of money today, but the smile on the 36 year old Valentino Rossi46 was as good as it was back in 1996 when he won his first Grand Prix. Will he win his 10th World Championship? it's still going to be very tough season, but he sure did start it off on the right foot.
Now they fly to COTA in two weeks time... massive straights, technical F1 track, good barbecue and a hungry Marc Marquez93, it's gonna be a great show for sure! Damn this MotoGP season is going to be fun.
Last Minute News: It seems Repsol Honda's Danny Pedrosa26 has decided to withdrawal indefinitely from competition after not being able to solve an arm pump condition (kept confidential) that has been hindering his performance.