Dovizioso Nips Marquez In MotoGP Opener

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Marc Marquez (93) battles Andrea Dovizioso during Sunday's MotoGP opener in Qatar. (Honda Photo)

LUSAIL, Qatar – Andrea Dovizioso survived a five-way battle for supremacy to capture the opening round of the MotoGP season Sunday at the Losail Int’l Circuit.

Dovizioso was locked in a battle for the race lead with reigning MotoGP champion Marc Marquez, Alex Rins, Valentino Rossi and Cal Crutchlow throughout the later stages of the race.

The Ducati rider took the lead at the start as the field settled in behind him. The man on the move early was Rins, who charged from 10th to exchange the lead with Dovizioso a handful of times beginning on lap five.

Eventually Dovizioso came out on top of the battle with Rins and found himself back at the front. Those chasing Dovizioso never lost sight of the Italian, with Marquez moving back into second and beginning to chase down Dovizioso again.

With five laps left the top-five riders were all within striking distance of each other as Dovizioso, Marquez, Rins, Crutchlow and Rossi found themselves racing for the victory.

On the penultimate lap Marquez was able to slip by Dovizioso to take the lead, but it was only temporary as Dovizioso returned the favor entering turn one on the final lap. Marquez tried to make a move on Dovizioso in turn 10 on the final lap, but Dovizioso fought back and defended his position.

Coming out of the final corner Marquez got to Dovizioso’s inside, but Dovizioso held firm and the two drag raced to the checkered flag. At the line Dovizioso bested Marquez by .023 of a second to take the victory in the MotoGP opener.

Crutchlow finished third to complete the podium for LCR Honda, with the Suzuki of Rins and the Yamaha of Rossi completing the top-five. The top-five riders were separated by .600 of a second at the checkered flag.