Bengaluru/Doha, March 10: Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso fired the first salvo as he won the FIM Moto GP World Championship season-opener under lights at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar, pipping world champion Marc Marquez in a thriller.
An epic desert duel between five riders in the latter stages ended with the Italian beating Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) by 0.023sec, with Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) beating Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) to P3 - the top five split by just 0.6sec
Yamaha rider Maverick Vinales, who started on pole, could manage only a seventh-place finish.
The MotoGP caravan moves to Argentina for the second race of the season on March 31.
A carbon copy of 12 months ago then played out at the final corner, with Marquez diving through, sitting up Dovizioso, running wide, with the latter being able to get the drive and power past the Honda on the exit to edge the number 93 to the line by 0.023 seconds.
Behind, Crutchlow kept his cool to take a remarkable podium on his first race back since his huge Australian GP crash, with Rins a valiant P4 and Rossi again proving you should never count 'The Doctor' out in P5 from P14 on the grid.
Before the lights went out at Losail, fifth place qualifier Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha STR) stalled his bike as they pulled off for the warm up lap. The rookie had to start from pitlane.
Heading into the last lap, Dovizioso powered past Marquez into Turn 1 after the reigning world champion had got the better of his rival on the penultimate lap, with Crutchlow P3, Rins P4 and Rossi P5.
The first words of the fastest 3 in Qatar— MotoGP™ 🇶🇦 (@MotoGP) March 10, 2019
Enjoy the elation of parc ferme at Losail with @AndreaDovizioso @marcmarquez93 and @calcrutchlow interviewed by Simon Crafar #MotoGP | #QatarGP 🎥 https://t.co/ZKVGC1Odw5? pic.twitter.com/9xSS0ajqNO
Pushing hard, Marquez had a slight moment with the front at Turn 3 before making a lunge up the inside of Dovizioso at Turn 10, but the Desmosedici was able to cut back up the inside on the exit.