Movistar Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi has opened the 2014 MotoGP season by taking his second consecutive second place finish at the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar this evening.
The nine-time world champion made strong start from tenth on the grid, quickly closing down and passing several riders to take fifth by the end of the first lap. With rival Dani Pedrosa in pursuit, Rossi kept the pace up over the following laps, eventually passing Bradley Smith for fourth on the brakes going into turn one with 17 laps to go. Alvaro Bautista was the next to go as a determined Rossi moved up to third, keeping pole man Marc Marquez in his sights and engaging in the first of many fights with the young Spaniard.
One lap later race leader Stefan Bradl crashed out, promoting the two battling riders. Rossi then took the lead with a pass on Marquez on turn 15. The two remained less than half a second apart, with Marquez regaining the lead with nine laps remaining. He was unable to shake his rival off, Rossi keeping within a couple of tenths until the final laps where he made several attempts to snatch glory. A final move on turn four on the penultimate lap was quickly taken back by Marquez, leaving Rossi to cross the line in second, just 0.259 seconds behind.
The result gives Rossi 20 points and second place in the standings as the championship starts.
Teammate Jorge Lorenzo had a disastrous start to his 2014 Championship tonight, crashing out of the Qatar Grand Prix on the first lap. Lorenzo made a trademark stunning start from fifth on the grid to grab the holeshot into turn one, leading the GP pack. His luck was not to last, a cold front tyre causing a low side crash just a couple of turns later and ending his race. He was luckily able to walk away without any major injuries and will be fit and ready for the next round in Texas in three weeks time.
2nd, +0.259, 22 Laps
"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 risk 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. It’s the first time it looked like an old race from MotoGP from ten years ago, all together on the same pace, some mistakes, going wide and so on. Maybe Dorna had a great idea! The Yamaha is always good in Qatar and I worked very hard in the practice for the race. I’m very happy with the work of my team and the bike was great in the race too. But anyway I am so happy for this start to the year, now we have to continue like this. Usually Jorge is so fantastic and so strong in the first laps so I don't understand what the mistake was.”
“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 tyres were different to 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 tyre were not ready yet. It's a pity to lose so many points with Marc and Valentino and Dani who are the favourites. Valentino demonstrated that the Yamaha can fight even with these tyres and the championship is very long so lets see what happens in Austin.”