Valentino Rossi wins thrilling MotoGP season opener in Qatar
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi emerged victorious from a thrilling battle with Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso to win the opening round of the MotoGP season at Qatar’s Losail International Circuit.
Starting from eighth on the grid, Rossi worked his way through the field and by lap eleven had closed right on the leading pack comprising his Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo, and the Ducati pair of Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone. After the four riders put on a spectacular four-way battle for the lead, in the closing stages Rossi and Dovizioso upped the pace and engaged in their own dogfight for victory. As the checkered flag was waved it was Rossi who clinched victory by just 0.174 seconds ahead of Dovizioso, while Andrea Iannone completed an all-Italian podium by finishing in third place a further two seconds behind. All three riders on the rostrum opted for the medium compound rear slick, but while the two Ducati riders chose the medium compound front slick for the race, Rossi selected the hard compound front slick.
Track conditions today were much like yesterday with a constant track temperature of 26°C recorded during the twenty-two lap race. The hard compound front slick that was widely used in race simulations in Free Practice 4 yesterday was also the most popular front tire choice for the race, with seventeen riders selecting this option, and the remaining eight riders selecting the medium compound front slick. Rear tire choice showed a strong preference for the medium compound rear slick, with twenty riders selecting this option, and five riders opting for the soft compound rear. Despite it showing promise during long runs in previous sessions, the hard compound rear slick was not chosen by any riders for the race.
The Qatar Grand Prix was the first competitive outing for Bridgestone’s 2015 specification MotoGP tires and the results were impressive, with this year’s Qatar Grand Prix having the shortest-ever winning race time and race winner Rossi able to set a time on his final lap that was just one-tenth of a second slower than his race fastest lap, set on lap five.
Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport tire Development Department
“That was an exciting race to start the season and it was thrilling to watch Valentino and Andrea battle for victory right until the end of the race. For today’s race we had similar conditions to yesterday’s sessions and as expected the most popular tire choice for the race was the hard compound front and medium compound rear slick, with fourteen of the twenty-five riders selecting this combination. All three of our rear slick options, and two of our front slick options were selected by riders and I am pleased with how consistent all our options performed over race distance. The competitiveness of this race was reflected with the total winning race time being the shortest ever, and the race passed almost without incident so overall it was a positive end to the weekend for Bridgestone.”
Valentino Rossi, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – Race Winner
“I’ve said this many times before, but this has been one of my best races. I had a bad start but I recovered well and we did a lot of work during practice and my bike was fantastic. Step by step I could progress and I didn’t give up, when I reached the two Ducati’s and Jorge it was difficult, but in some parts of the circuit I was very strong. I’m so happy today for myself, my team and for Yamaha.”