Movistar Yamaha MotoGP‘s Jorge Lorenzo had been strong at the Losail International Circuit the whole weekend and the race day was no exception. He rode a faultless race from start to finish, and brought home the first win of the season. Teammate Valentino Rossi also put in a strong result at the opening round of the 2016 MotoGP season, missing out on a place on the podium by just a tenth of a second.
Lorenzo‘s race went according to plan at the start of the opening race when he had a perfect launch off the line from pole position. He led for the first lap, but was chased by Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso on the over one kilometre long straight at the Qatar track. The Spaniard was forced to let them pass, but he didn‘t give up. As his rivals battled each other he lay in wait and after Iannone crashed out the Yamaha rider took his chance to make a charge for the lead for the second time. With 14 laps to go, he smoothly passed Dovizioso and continued to increase his pace.
With clear a track in front of him, the Majorcan was in his element. In an effort to shake off Dovizioso completely, he used the nimble YZR-M1 to the fullest, setting a new fastest race lap record of 1‘54.927s. He slowly inched away and crossed the line for the final time with a +2.019s lead over the man in second place.
Starting from fifth on the grid, teammate Rossi had a good start and made sure he placed himself close to the front, in fourth place, to stay in contention. He shadowed his teammate as the top five formed the leading group, but couldn‘t find a way through. With rival Marc Marquez pushing him down one place with 20 laps to go, the Doctor used his experience and bided his time, hoping he could benefit from his harder option rear tyre towards the end of the race.
His strategy paid off when the rivals in front of him got involved in a scrap, causing Iannone to crash out. Now in fourth, he put pressure on Marquez by setting multiple personal best laps of the race, as he didn‘t want to let Dovizioso and Lorenzo pull away. As the top three upped their pace towards the end of the race, the Doctor kept pushing to the maximum and set the fastest lap of the race thus far, trying to hang on to the back of Marquez. The battle for second between Dovizioso and Marquez lasted until the final corner, giving Rossi a chance of reaching the podium, but he came just short and took the flag in fourth place, +2.387s from his teammate.
Lorenzo‘s masterful win earns him first place in the championship standings with 25 points. Rossi now holds fourth place in the championship with 13 points.
Thanks to today‘s results Movistar Yamaha MotoGP take the lead in the teams‘ championship with 38 points. The next round will be held at the Termas de Río Hondo Circuit, Argentina, in two weeks‘ time.
It has been a superb start to the season. Jorge rode a perfect race from start to finish and was in control the whole time. This win was definitely deserved and a great reward to his and the team‘s hard work. Vale also rode a good race today. It was a shame that he came a bit short in terms of pace, perhaps because of the decision to use the harder rear tyre, else I think we could have had both riders on the podium. When we started the weekend we set the target for ourselves to take home victory and that‘s exactly what we did. This result gave us a good confidence boost to face the next round in Argentina. I want to say a big thank you to the team for their great effort.
We are there, in first position, without struggling and suffering and riding in the perfect way. For me, over all laps, this race has been one of the best of my whole career and that was why I was able to win and could make this little difference in the last three laps that gave me the victory. It was a little down and up with the tyres. We made the decision to put on the soft rear tyre, because with the hard one we couldn‘t be so fast. The harder compound should become better and better, but I think what happened was the opposite. The softer tyre should get worse and worse, but it was faster and faster so this little difference was the difference between me and Dovizioso and Marquez. I was surprised how fast my pace was towards the end of the race. I was sliding so much, but at the same time I was very smooth and concentrated and made no mistakes and that‘s why even with the pressure from Dovizioso, when I was at a margin of 0.4, .03, 0.5, I didn‘t get nervous and kept riding better and better. I feel very proud of my riding and my race and also the work of the team, because we put together the electronics and the setting of the bike in a very good way.
At the end it was a great race, the pace was very fast from the beginning to the end, but unfortunately I stayed behind and I didn‘t have enough speed to try and attack. I was there but I was never in the real fight, I was always a little bit behind. We need a faster pace and maybe the tyre choice can make some difference, but we don‘t know. Maybe with the soft tyre I could go faster or I could go slower. We arrived behind and unfortunately didn‘t get on the podium, but it was a good race anyway, with a good start. We are there, we have to work, but for sure we are competitive. Last year in Argentina was a great race, one of the best with a great pace and I was coming from behind, but this year it will be a different story, especially with the tyres. We need to understand our potential this year.