Jorge Lorenzo dominates Qatar GP - Rossi and Marquez steal the limelight
Reigning MotoGP World champion Jorge Lorenzo took a dominating victory in the first round of the 2013 MotoGP championship under the floodlights of the Losail International circuit in Qatar, but it was his returning team mate Valentino Rossi and Repsol Honda rookie Marc Marquez who stole the spotlight and provided the thrilling action and completing the podium.
Lorenzo took the win from lights-to-flag, hammering blistering and precision laps in the middle 1.55s, that gave him five-second lead in the same number of laps, something that was clearly unthinkable for the rest of the field to maintain in the 22 lap race and he crossed under the chequered flag with a 5.990 second margin.
Title rival Dani Pedrosa never stood a chance. The Repsol Honda veteran rider suffered problems with his RC213V all weekend long; first with corner entry issues on the dusty and sandy asphalt of the Qatari track and then rear grip problems and a sliding tire, forced him to dice it out with team-mate Marquez, Monster Yamaha's Cal Crutchlow and the resurgent Valentino Rossi.
Rossi however didn’t make it easy for himself. First he qualified a lowly seventh on the starting grid and while he was able to make up three positions at the start, he then tried to dive past Andrea Dovizioso - who replaced him in Ducati - to try to catch the fleeing Lorenzo, and he ran wide and off track into turn one and was forced to rejoin in seventh place (with a bent brake lever) and eight seconds down.
After that red mist moment – that’s how the Italian later defined it – he needed to get past a tough Stefan Bradlon the LCR spec Honda and it took him until lap 8, but once clear of the cumbersome German, began to chase down Crutchlow and the Repsol Honda duo, who were more than four seconds ahead of him.
Rossi whacked open the throttle, driving in and out of the corners with a blistering pace almost matching his team mate’s previous laps times and was on the tail of Crutchlow’s Yamaha with five laps to go, while in the meantime Marquez grabbed second from Pedrosa.
The Italian literally ripped the stickers off of Crutchlow’s satellite M1 as he went by him and the Briton would then run off track and re-join, but with his hopes of a podium finish left in the sands of the Qatar track and a disappointing fifth place to take home after a highly competitive weekend.
Rossi then took care of Pedrosa, who valiantly tried to stick with the Italian, but his Honda was sliding and he was fading fast. The Spaniard finished fourth and a with stung ego of having been beaten by his rookie team mate in his debut race.
With three laps go Rossi went past Marquez - who was exiting fans with his drifts - on the brakes at the end of the straight, and the battle was on.The Spaniard returned the favour, but Rossi wasn’t having any and after another pass, closed the door on Marquez, who pluckily stuck to Rossi’s tail to the line to take his first podium in MotoGP.
Further down the field, Alvaro Bautista, riding with a pair of broke fingers was sixth of Ducati’s Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden and Pramac Ducati duo Andrea Iannone (who later gave friend Valentino Rossi a ride back to parc ferme after Rossi’s M1 ran out of fuel cool down lap) and Ben Spies. Aleix Espargaro was the top CRT rider, while Yamaha’s Tech 3's rookie Bradley Smith crashed out, as did Stefan Bradl, while Michael Laverty on the PBM CRT machine finished his first race in MotoGP in 17th.