Márquez beats Rossi in Qatar thriller
23 March 2014 – Marc Márquez opened his 2014 campaign with victory as he beat Valentino Rossi during a thrilling MotoGP race in Qatar while Jorge Lorenzo crashed out on the opening lap. Reigning World Champion Márquez edged out Rossi by less than three-tenths of a second, with Dani Pedrosa completing the podium for Honda.
The season began in dramatic fashion as Tech 3's Bradley Smith shot off the line from the front row but Yamaha rider Lorenzo took the lead under braking for the first corner, ahead of Stefan Bradl and pole man Márquez. Lorenzo tried to hammer out an advantage and had already opened up several bike lengths over Smith but made an uncharacteristic error under braking for Turn 10 and crashed out of the race on the opening lap. The double World Champion was uninjured in the accident.
"I made a mistake," Lorenzo told BT Sport. "The tyres are different, the temperatures are colder so I didn't take into account these things. I risked and I entered the corner too fast. The pity is that we lost a lot of points."
Lorenzo's mistake handed the advantage to Bradl, who led at the end of the first lap ahead of Márquez and Smith. Andrea Iannone made a storming start and was running in fourth place but he crashed after losing control exiting the final corner on the second lap.
Márquez hounded Bradl for the lead of the race but made a mistake under braking and allowed Álvaro Bautista up to second. Bautista was then the one who erred as his Gresini bike squirmed under braking, handing Márquez second and Rossi third.
Bradl continued to lead but suffered a carbon copy of Lorenzo’s accident and made his exit from the event, falling heavily on his left shoulder as he hit the ground. As Bradl's accident was ongoing, Márquez and Rossi squabbled for position and the Italian emerged on top. Márquez continued to harry Rossi and nearly ran into the back of his rival before taking the lead with nine laps remaining. Bautista and Pedrosa continued to battle over third place but Smith's good run came to an end when he crashed out of fifth place at Turn 2 with just a handful of laps remaining.
Márquez attempted to pull out a gap to Rossi but was unable to shake off the advances of the Italian as the duo opened up an advantage over Pedrosa, while Bautista crashed out from fourth on the penultimate lap to leave Pedrosa in a safe third place. Márquez and Rossi swapped places several times – and came close to making contact – on the penultimate lap. Márquez just pulled enough of a gap to edge out Rossi to claim the first win of 2014 despite riding with a broken leg, ahead of Pedrosa in third.
"I enjoyed this [win] a lot," said Márquez. "On the race there was a question mark over the last laps. I didn’t expect this yesterday, I didn’t think about the injury [in the race]. The last lap I pushed 100 per cent, the lap before we passed two or three times. Last year Valentino and I battled and he won, this year I won!"
Practice pace-setter Aleix Espargaró recovered from his disastrous qualifying performance to record his best MotoGP finish in fourth place. Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow took fifth and sixth for Ducati, ahead of rookie Scott Redding, Nicky Hayden, Colin Edwards and Iannone, who recovered after his earlier accident.
The second round of the season takes place at the Circuit of the Americas from April 11-13