Jorge Lorenzo thrilled under the floodlights on the Losail International Circuit and took the first MotoGP victory of 2013 in the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar ahead of his resurgent Yamaha Factory Racing teammate Valentino Rossi and grabbing third place in his first ever MotoGP race was Repsol Honda rookie Marc Marquez.
I made a good start and pushed more than 100%
Lorenzo pulled away immediately and had a near 2-second lead within the first three laps with Pedrosa still in second and Crutchlow passing Dovizioso. Rossi was hassling the Ducati of Dovizioso but went wide while attempting to pass and dropped back to 7th while the first retirement came in the form of Cardion AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham with the rider walking away unhurt. Further down the field Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) was leading Pramac Racing’s Ben Spies with the top CRT rider early on being Power Electronics Aspar rider Randy De Puniet who lead ahead of his teammate Aleix Epargaro. Yonny Hernandez (Paul Bird Motorsport) was running in front of Hector Barbera for the Avintia Blusens team. NGM Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards was leading Came IodaRacing Project’s Lukas Pesek and Hiroshi Aoyama (Avintia Blusens), Paul Bird Motorsports Michael Laverty and Claudio Corti (NGM Forward Racing).
Back at the front Lorenzo continued to build on his lead while Rossi was re-grouping behind Bradl in 7th. Marquez was now passed Dovizioso into third behind his teammate while by Bautista, Hayden, and Iannone wounded out the top ten. Rossi was quickly passed Dovizioso now and Bradl was next in line before the seven times MotoGP Champion was in pursuit of Crutchlow. Smith crashed out early on but was ok with Espargaro still leading teammate De Puniet while Spies was having a bad time and was then passed by Espargaro. There was heartache for Stefan Bradl next with the German rider crashing out while in pursuit of Rossi.
The lead Lorenzo had built up by the halfway point was over 5 seconds with Pedrosa continuing to lead Marquez and Crutchlow with Rossi in hot pursuit of this group and within 5 laps the Italian had bridged the gap to Crutchlow and in an attempt to prevent Rossi from passing, Crutchlow ran wide on the entry into the first turn and leaving the door wide open for Rossi to pass while Crutchlow re-joined the race in 5th place. Petrucci retired from the race with 8 laps to go while the CRT battle was being led by Espargaro and the battle for 6th was down to Bautista, Dovizioso, Hayden and Iannone.
Pedrosa had to settle for 4th place with Crutchlow in 5th and he was followed home by Bautista, Dovizioso Hayden, Iannone and teammate Spies in the top ten positions. The top CRT honor went to Espargaro who led teammate De Puniet across the line while Barbera finished in 13th, Hernandez in 14th ahead of Aoyama, Corti, Laverty and Pesek taking 18th and final place while Colin Edwards failed to finish the race.
Lorenzo was delighted with his first race win of the year and said, “Half an hour before the race I felt a little bit nervous so I had to really concentrate and relax on the grid. I knew it was going to be difficult to open a gap but I had to try, I made a good start and pushed more than 100%. In the beginning it was hard to open the gap as Pedrosa didn’t want to let me get away, he tried to stay with me but after six or seven laps I opened the gap which made me more confident to keep my pace. I’m very happy for Yamaha and happy for Valentino as he has now passed two difficult years.”
Rossi was ecstatic with his second place after having his nightmarish last two seasons. Speaking afterwards he said, “I’m more than happy, very happy indeed because it was my dream to come back with Yamaha. To arrive on the podium at the first race was my target from November and I put all my effort to arrive at the maximum here. It was a difficult weekend, especially yesterday in qualifying, but I knew I had great pace so I tried to recover in the beginning but I made a mistake and I lost time.
I had to do a great second part of the race and step by step I came close to my podium. In the end there was a great battle, especially with Marc for the second place. I’m so happy for me, for my team, for my friends and all my fans who stay with me through two difficult years and also for Yamaha, to start the season with first and second place is not so bad!” Rossi added.
I think that this was the key. When I rode behind Dani I learnt a lot, also later on with Valentino. Fighting against him is always nice to watch, but it's always tough at the same time. Valentino was a tough rival to overtake on the final laps. He beat us this time, but we hope to learn from him and from everyone who went faster than us,” Marquez added.