MotoGP Grand Prix of Qatar 2019 Results: Andrea Dovizioso Wins Season Opener

Gill Clark@@gillclarkyFeatured Columnist IIMarch 10, 2019

Mission Winnow Ducati's Italian rider Andrea Dovizioso (R) rides during the Qatar MotoGP grand prix at the Losail track in Qatar's capital Doha on March 10, 2019. (Photo by KARIM JAAFAR / AFP)        (Photo credit should read KARIM JAAFAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Andrea Dovizioso won the first MotoGP race of the season on Sunday, as he took the chequered flag ahead of defending world champion Marc Marquez and Cal Crutchlow on Sunday at the Qatar Grand Prix.

The Ducati rider led for the majority of the 22 laps in an exciting race under the floodlights at the Losail International Circuit.

A tightly contested season opener saw five riders in contention for the win heading into the final lap, with Dovizioso and Marquez tussling for victory and the Italian just coming out on top.

Here's a look at the full classification:

Simon Patterson @denkmit

WHAT. A. RACE. Dovi versus Marquez, yet another last corner scrap.... and Dovi does him! #QatarGP https://t.co/LU6zAEc41Y

There was plenty of excitement at the start of the race. Dovizioso led Jack Miller into the first turn, while pole-sitter Maverick Vinales was forced wide by Marquez and slipped down to sixth:

MotoGP™ 🇶🇦 @MotoGP

And we are green for #MotoGP in 2019! 🚦 23 riders are unleashed down to the first turn but it's @AndreaDovizioso who leads on the first lap! 🔥 #QatarGP 🇶🇦 https://t.co/EecAvDva5k

Meanwhile, Fabio Quartararo on his MotoGP debut suffered a nightmare start. The 19-year-old qualified in fifth but had to start from the pit lane after stalling on the line.

Miller also suffered an early problem. He had to throw away a piece of his seat which dropped him from second down to 11th:

Simon Patterson @denkmit

Technical problem for @jackmilleraus... just ripped the seat unit off the bike! #QatarGP

While Dovizioso continued to lead the race, it was Quartararo who caught the eye. The youngster may have been in last place after starting from the pit lane but was the fastest man on the track early on:

MotoGP™ 🇶🇦 @MotoGP

It's a freight train out front but rookie @FabioQ20 just went 1.4 seconds quicker than ANYONE ELSE on track!🔥🔥🔥 #QatarGP 🇶🇦 https://t.co/FcSsn36iXo

At the front, Alex Rins and Dovizioso traded places, while Danilo Petrucci went past Marquez into third place, with rookie Joan Mir impressing in fourth approaching the halfway point.

The first casualty of the race was Francesco Bagnaia, who dropped out with what looked like a mechanical problem:

Simon Patterson @denkmit

Looks like a gearbox failure for Bagnaia - went down the box and didn't slow down. Into the pits now #QatarGP

Meanwhile, Dovizioso's conservative pace up front made for a leading pack consisting of eight riders heading into the final five laps to set up a thrilling finish.

Dovizioso upped the pace in the closing stages but could not shake off Marquez, Crutchlow and Rins, although the Suzuki rider slipped out of contention after running wide into the first turn with just three laps to go.

Marquez hit the front with two laps left after passing Dovizioso under braking, but the Italian powered past the world champion on the home straight going into the final lap.

A exhilarating last lap saw the two rivals fighting for top spot, with Dovizioso retaking the lead on the final corner to clinch the first victory of the new season by just 0.023 seconds:

MotoGP™ 🇶🇦 @MotoGP

A truly outstanding effort from the reigning champion @marcmarquez93 but once again @AndreaDovizioso gets the better him on the final corner! 👏👏👏 #QatarGP 🇶🇦 https://t.co/tY0sMJ6fhO

It was a superb start to the new MotoGP year with Dovizioso picking up his second win in Qatar, while Crutchlow also deserves credit for his third-place finish on his comeback after serious injury.

The next race on the calendar is the Argentina Grand Prix at the Termas de Rio Hondo Circuit on March 13.