It was a familiar name on top -- Dovizioso and it was a familiar name diving down the inside at the final corner too, as Marquez rolled the dice once again - just 0.023 off 'DesmoDovi' over the line.
Behind that classic duel that defines a rivalry came another battle but this time of three, with Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) pulling out all the stops to complete the podium and fend off Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and a late-charging Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP).
It was Dovizioso who got the holeshot from pole, he and Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) grabbing P1 and P2 into Turn 1 as Marquez held position just behind.
Polesitter Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) didn't get the start he would have been aiming for as he dropped to sixth on Lap 1 and eventually finished seventh, with Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) and team-mate Crutchlow catapulting through to the top five.
Man on the move
Rins impressed and only just missed the podium. TheSpaniard was the man on the move as he made more progress after a sharp start from P10 on the grid, the Suzuki man coming through to take the lead by Lap 5 before he duelled Dovizioso for the pleasure.
It remained a lead group of nine following each other line astern, however, with no one breaking rank just yet.
Marquez had got the better of Dovizioso on the penultimate lap, but the Ducati struck back down the straight. It was another classic point and shoot contest to the line as both gunned it on the exit, but Dovizioso couldn't be caught and made it out ahead with a winning margin of 0.023sec.
An an awesome opener indeed!We've only just begun. The next Grand Prix is in Argentina on March 31.