Pole sitter Andrea Dovizioso and the first row starters Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez were quickly off the blocks, but the Repsol Hondas were soon in trouble. Pedrosa was bumped down to seventh and Marquez was swiped aside and ended up dead last. Rossi, who started from eighth on the grid, fell back to tenth position and took a few laps to get a feel for the situation. He then ploughed through the order on his way to the front of the field. He quickly overtook several riders to take fifth in a duel with Pedrosa on lap four.
The no.46 Yamaha then passed Yonny Hernandez for fourth and went after the riders in the lead group by lap five. Rossi would soon join the lead group of Iannone, his team mate and Dovizioso in the final stint of the race. First, he dispatched Iannone in the epic battle between the two factory teams with four laps to run. A nail biting last few laps with Dovizioso followed, with the Doctor giving one of his best performances in his 20 year MotoGP career. Fighting until the very last corner he gave everything to hold enough of an advantage to clinch the first victory of the new season, with a margin of 0.174s.
Lorenzo held second at turn one at the start of the race, behind Dovizioso. The former champion took over at the front in turn 12 of lap two, but was unable to create a lead. The Yamaha ace and Dovizioso battled hard and were later joined by Iannone and Rossi. Lorenzo feeling the heat of the following riders, made many attempts at reclaiming the lead, but was unable to hold first position. He fought bravely, but with four laps to go was forced to let his teammate and rivals go through due to a problem with his helmet, and eventually ended up fourth.
Ducati riders made an immediate impact at the MotoGP season-opener, thanks to the super consistent GP15s. Dovizioso and Iannone were second and third at the end of the race, ensuring Ducati’s best start to the season. Dovizioso battled Lorenzo all race long, then Rossi near the end of the race. On the twenty-first and penultimate lap Rossi was able to slip past and Dovizioso tried to attack him for the win, but had to settle for second, less than two tenths of a second away from the top slot. Team mate Iannone was in the lead group for most of the race, and eventually settled for third by the end of the race; his first ever MotoGP career podium.
With the win, Rossi pushed into the lead with 25 points, followed by the Ducati riders and Lorenzo in second through fourth places.
Both Repsol Hondas faced separate issues throughout the race, with Pedrosa having an arm pump in his right arm and Marquez slipping up from the lead group on the very first lap. The Repsol Hondas did try to make comebacks, but they languished in fifth and sixth for most of the middle and final stints. Nevertheless, Marquez still managed to break a record with the fastest top speed recorded in the premier class of 350.5km/h, beating the previous record held by Iannone of 349.6km/h. The Qatar GP represented the first time Marquez didn’t lead the riders’ standings, since the 2013 German GP.
The second round is scheduled for the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, TX in the U.S.A. in two weeks‘ time.
2015 MotoGP season-opener at Losail, results
1 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 42:35.717
2 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati +0.174
3 Andrea Iannone Ducati +2.250
4 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha +2.707
5 Marc Marquez Honda +7.036
6 Daniel Pedrosa Honda +10.755
7 Cal Crutchlow Honda +12.384
8 Bradley Smith Yamaha +12.914
9 Pol Espargaro Yamaha +13.031
10 Yonny Hernandez Ducati +17.435
11 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki +19.901
12 Danilo Petrucci Ducati +24.432
13 Scott Redding Honda +32.032
14 Maverick Viñales Suzuki +33.463
15 Hector Barbera Avintia +33.625
16 Stefan Bradl Yamaha +33.944
1 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 1:54.113
2 Daniel Pedrosa Honda 1:54.330
3 Marc Marquez Honda 1:54.437
4 Andrea Iannone Ducati 1:54.521
5 Yonny Hernandez Ducati 1:54.675
6 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1:54.711
7 Bradley Smith Yamaha 1:54.732
8 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 1:54.851
9 Danilo Petrucci Ducati 1:54.876
10 Pol Espargaro Yamaha 1:55.004
1. Valentino Rossi 25
2. Andrea Dovizioso 20
3. Andrea Iannone 16
4. Jorge Lorenzo 13
5. Marc Marquez 11
6. Daniel Pedrosa 10
7. Cal Crutchlow 9
8. Bradley Smith 8
9. Pol Espargaro 7
10. Yonny Hernandez 6
11. Aleix Espargaro 5
12. Danilo Petrucci 4
13. Scott Redding 3
14. Maverick Viñales 2
15. Hector Barbera 1