Lorenzo dominates in Brno

Lorenzo brnoJorge Lorenzo has drawn level with Valentino Rossi at the top of the championship standings after he led from start to finish at the Czech Grand Prix. The Yamaha riders are now equal on 211 points, 52 points ahead of Marc Marquez.

After qualifying on pole, Lorenzo started well to keep the lead in to the first corner, after which he never looked back. Marc Marquez looked to be trying to replicate his Indianapolis tactics, but he was unable to keep pace with the front man, eventually ending up five seconds behind. It became clear fairly early that Marquez didn’t have the pace, looking fairly ragged trying to keep up with the metronomically smooth Lorenzo.

Valentino Rossi rode a lonely race in third, and Andrea Iannone overcame his team-mate for fourth. Dani Pedrosa battled through the pain from his crash earlier in the weekend to also come out on top of an intense late battle with Dovizioso. Bradley Smith finished above his team-mate in seventh, and fellow Brit Scott Redding came 12th. Loris Baz finished top of the Open class bikes, finishing fifteenth. Cal Crutchlow crashed out with seven laps remaining, whilst Irishman Eugene Laverty crashed earlier in the race.

Niccolo Antonelli won the Moto3 race, but Britain’s Danny Kent still holds a commanding championship lead despite a seventh place finish. Johann Zarco won the Moto2 race, with Brit Sam Lowes finishing fifth.

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Rossi wins despite Ducati revival

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Valentino Rossi took his first win in Qatar since 2010

An enthralling battle in the opening race of the season saw an all-Italian podium, with Valentino Rossi taking the chequered flag for his 109th race victory. Ducati established themselves as a dark horse for the season with Dovizioso and Iannone completing the podium, leaving world champion Marc Marquez to settle for fifth.

Dovizioso had taken pole position, but many still doubted the Ducati’s ability to last race distance. Both Repsol Hondas started poorly. Marquez was forced wide at turn one, having to play catch-up from the back, whilst Pedrosa was swallowed up by the pack in the first turn.

Both Iannone and Dovizioso started strongly, split by Jorge Lorenzo. Lorenzo continued to dual with the Ducatis whilst Rossi edged his way past a bright Yonny Hernandez further down the field. The Yamaha had the pace throughout the track, but the sheer power of the Ducati meant that down the longest start/finish straight in the GP circuit, it entered turn one in the lead.

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Andrea Dovizioso narrowly missed out on his second Grand Prix victory

As Lorenzo, Dovizioso and Iannone tripped over each other Rossi closed the gap with consistently quick times, before passing and gapping Iannone. The leading group were four seconds clear of Dani Pedrosa and Marquez, who had shaken off the challenge of Cal Crutchlow, Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro. With five laps to go it looked as if it could have been a Yamaha one-two, but Lorenzo dropped off after being passed by Rossi. Dovizioso stuck on Rossi’s back tyre, pipping him to the line consistently despite trailing into the last corner. However the Ducati ran wide on turn one of the last lap, letting Rossi retake the lead. Rossi stretched his lead on the back side of the track, giving him enough of a lead into the last straight to hold of Dovizioso’s challenge by 0.174 seconds. Iannone pipped Lorenzo to third whilst Marquez finished ahead of his team-mate for fifth.

Cal Crutchlow finished his opening race on the LCR Honda as the top Brit in seventh, whilst Hector Barbera finished as the top Open class rider in 15th. On their return to MotoGP, Suzuki finished in 11th (Aleix Espargaro) and 14th (Maverick Vinales), whilst Aprilia returned in slightly less style, with Alvaro Bautista retiring early on and Marco Melandri finishing 21st.


Standings:

1. Valentino Rossi 42m 35.717s

2. Andrea Dovizioso +0.174s

3. Andrea Iannone +2.250s

4. Jorge Lorenzo +2.707s

5. Marc Marquez +7.036s

6. Dani Pedrosa +10.755s

7. Cal Crutchlow +12.384s

8. Bradley Smith +12.914s

9. Pol Espargaro +13.031s

10. Yonny Hernandez +17.435s

13. Scott Redding +32.032s

18. Eugene Laverty +46.570s