Marc Marquez got his MotoGP™ World Championship title defence off to the perfect start after the Repsol Honda rider emerged victorious from a closely-fought contest with Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi.
Starting from pole position, Marquez traded places with Rossi at the front of the field numerous times throughout the twenty-two lap race, before Marquez made the race-winning pass in the final stages to take the chequered flag by 0.259 seconds. In third place at the Qatar Grand Prix was Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa who crossed the finish line 3.370 seconds after his teammate.
The track temperature for the race was the coolest recorded over the whole race weekend, with a peak recording of just 20°C which brought with it a spike in humidity levels. This resulted in many riders commenting after the race that grip levels were lower than the Warm Up session four hours earlier. Although conditions were quite cool, only two riders selected the soft compound front slick, with the rest of the grid opting for the hard compound front slick. For the rear tyre, only race-winner Marc Marquez selected the hard compound rear slick for the race, and the medium compound rear was by far the popular choice, with fifteen riders selecting this option. Seven of the eleven Open-class entrants selected the soft compound rear slick for the Qatar Grand Prix.
Hiroshi Yamada – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department: “That was a fantastic way to start the season; it was great to see riders from so many different teams fighting for position in the opening half of the race. Congratulations to Marc Marquez and Honda on winning the first race of the season, and well done to Valentino for pushing him all the way to the finish line. Every session this weekend was closely-contested, culminating in a thoroughly exciting race which I am sure was appreciated by MotoGP fans all around the world. I hope this trend of close racing continues for the rest of the season, starting with the Grand Prix of the Americas in three weeks’ time”
Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department: “The 10pm start for the race in Qatar means we had cool and humid conditions for the Qatar Grand Prix, and listening to the comments from riders after the race, it seems this reduced the grip levels compared to the Warm Up session. As expected we had big variation in tyre strategies for the race, with all our front and rear slick options being utilised. I am happy to see that Marc was able to be so competitive on the hard compound rear slick, we made a big development with this option late last year for improved edge grip and the race result today showed it’s a viable race option for this year.”
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda – Race Winner: “I’m very happy with the victory as I didn’t expect this result. I felt better physically yesterday but I still had a question mark over how I would go in the race. I chose the hard rear tyre so I was a bit cautious at the start of the race, but then it was ok so then I decided to push. The battle with Valentino was very exciting and we swapped positions many times, last year he came out on top but this year it was my turn. I hope to have many more nice battles like that this year.”