2015 MotoGP Qatar: Valentino Rossi Serves Notice With Dramatic Win
Nine-time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi served notice to the rest of the grid that just because he’s won the title so many times, that doesn’t mean he’s not hungry for his 10th title. The Movistar Yamaha rider put on a resounding display of wits and guile on his way to winning the inaugural race of the 2015 MotoGP season in Qatar.
It was far from easy for Rossi, who started from 8th on the grid before picking his way though the field in time to engage the resurgent Ducati Desmosedici GP15 of Andrea Dovizioso into one of the most dramatic season-opening races in recent history. With only three laps remaining in the race, Rossi found himself running second behind Dovizioso and from there, the two riders engaged in a thrilling exchange of overtaking that went literally down to the final straight. In the end, it was the Doctor who edged past his rival, taking the chequered flag by 0.174 seconds!
You can’t start a MotoGP season any better than this!
For his part, Dovizioso and ride-mate Andrea Iannone showed that this season may end up becoming a three-team race to the championship, finishing second and third, respectively, to put the early-season spotlight on a possible Ducati resurgence.
While Rossi and Dovizioso were engaged in their own battle for the top step of the podium, Iannone also had an eventful conclusion to the race, holding off Rossi’s teammate and two-time MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo by .457 seconds for the last step on the podium.
Noticeably absent from the pulse-pounding finish were Repsol Honda riders Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa. The defending champion and his running mate really had a race to forget and that may even be putting it lightly. Marquez didn’t do himself any favors by running wide at the very first corner, forcing him to rejoin the race dead last. But give credit to the 22-year old for keeping his wits together and coming back strong to finish in fifth position, just 7.036 seconds off of Rossi’s winning time.
Meanwhile, Pedrosa came in just behind Marquez in sixth place, but the real story behind his weekend happened when he announced a previously undisclosed arm injury that could shelve him for the foreseeable future.
In a race that had so many ups-and-downs for Repsol Honda, news of Pedrosa’s injury could have the most lasting-effect on the team’s chances to defend its constructor’s title.
But hey, it’s just the season-opening race and anything can still happen as the season progresses.
For now, though, it’s Valentino Rossi once again serving notice that he’s still a threat to win the MotoGP title.
Better take notice, MotoGP. The Doctor is now in his office.
Photo courtesy of MotoGP.
Continue reading for my thoughts on MotoGP’s season-opening race in Qatar.
Thoughts on the race
Wow! I don’t know if you can start the MotoGP season any better than that!
I knew that Movistar Yamaha had the bike to compete with Repsol Honda, but what I didn’t know, or maybe didn’t consider, was how hungry Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo are in trying to put an end to Marc Marquez and Repsol Honda’s reign atop MotoGP.
At the very least, Yamaha’s performance in Qatar will make a lot of people interested this season. But even with Rossi’s win and Lorenzo’s fourth place finish, a more compelling narrative can be made by a Ducati Team that was pretty much left for dead before the season started.
Everybody knew that the team is fast, but questions on their reliability continued to fester in the week’s prior to the season-opening race. Well, for at least one race, Ducati managed to pull it together and get everything to work on the same page. The results certainly speak for themselves. if the team can sustain this kind of performance for every race this season, we could really be looking at a three-team race to the championship.
I’m not discounting Marquez and Honda Repsol just yet. They had a bad race and they’ll bounce back like the champs that they are. But they’re a team in crisis right now with Pedrosa’s mysterious injury and it’s not a good place to be in, especially with the early season form being displayed by Yamaha and Ducati.
The champs will get its act together. Hopefully for them, it happens sooner than later.