Valentino Rossi MotoGP Qatar 2015
Valentino Rossi – winner MotoGP Qatar 2015

If you did not watch the MotoGP race last night then you have missed one of the best season openers ever and in fact one of the best races in a long time. With the Ducati’s now lasting the entire race distance and having the race pace to challenge at the front, the number of people that can possibly win a race has just gone up from the four to six. The race weekend started with Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa as favourites but on race day warm ups both the Yamaha’s found some much needed pace. Especially Valentino Rossi, he had found that special something with the harder front tyre and his strategy really paid off. The Honda’s had a bad start and even though Marc Marquez bull dozed through the field he could not catch up to the front runners. Dani Pedrosa looked strong all weekend but his arm pump issue saw him settle at a slower pace. He is most likely to take a break from racing till the hand issue is sorted out. Jorge Lorenzo, who at one point was battling it out with Andrea Dovizioso had an issue with his HJC helmet that saw a loose padding block his vision. Both riders even with these race misfortunes kept their cool and completed the race within the points, a testament to their level of commitment. We leave you with the rider quotes.

Valentino Rossi 

“In the last three seasons I always rode solid races and arrived on the podium but to come back with a victory is another thing. I am so happy because we suffered a lot during the practices and also the tests, but we worked very well for the 22 laps race and I was very strong. First of all you have to be lucky, but especially the work that we do with the team during the weekend makes the difference for my pace in the race. It was definitely one of the best races of my career, considering where we were yesterday. I really have to thank all my team, my engineers and all at Yamaha because I think today we did something amazing.”

Andrea Dovizioso

“This is a special result for Ducati and for me, after everything we have been through in the last few years, and it rewards the work that we have done together to arrive at this point. I never expected to be so competitive in the first race, and it really is an extraordinary result. I want to thank all the engineers and the people in Bologna, who managed to get the bike ready in time for the Sepang 2 tests, the mechanics who have worked so hard this weekend and all the guys in Ducati Corse for the commitment they have demonstrated with this project. Iannone and I managed to get two podiums for Ducati and that’s a great result, but above all now I believe that this is only a starting-point for the future.”

Andrea Iannone 

“I am very pleased with this result: it is my first podium in MotoGP and it’s really incredible to have done it on my debut race as a factory Ducati rider. Dovi and I finished second and third with the new GP15 bikes, and I didn’t expect to be so competitive so soon in the first race, so it really is a fantastic sensation. Back home the guys in Ducati Corse have done a great job this winter, and I owe a lot to them. Since 2013 I have had the support of this great company, which has helped me to improve and which has taught me a lot of things, and so I would like to dedicate my first podium to all of them. A big thanks to everyone in Ducati, to Gigi Dall’Igna, to Claudio Domenicali and all the people who work with me.”

Jorge Lorenzo 

“It was a difficult race. After the first lap, I found myself in second place and I followed Dovizioso. I was faster and I passed him where I could in the fast corners. On the speed and in braking the Ducati was much stronger than our bike, but we could recover on corner speed while the acceleration was similar. To be honest, I thought that I could win the race, though it surely wasn‘t going to be easy, because Valentino had a very strong pace at the end of the race. I was feeling better and better, but suddenly there was something wrong when in the top part of the helmet the foam came loose and came down so I lost half of my vision. I couldn‘t see the corners very well and couldn‘t concentrate or ride like before and I was losing half a second or more per lap. In a race where, at minimum I could fight for the win, I finished fourth.”

Marc Marquez

“We should be happy because we have salvaged eleven important points, when we could easily have left here with none. It was a tough race, in which I made a mistake at the first corner and dropped back to last place. This meant that I had to make a comeback, pushing hard all through the race, but in the end I saw that I could not catch the group at the front. The positive that I’ll take from today is that we rode at a similar pace to the lead group. In Austin we will continue to work hard, with an even stronger desire to do well.”

Dani Pedrosa

“Tonight’s race didn’t go to plan and unfortunately, I had serious problems with my right forearm which isn’t good news for me. I worked very hard over the winter in order to find a solution, because I was suffering in every race last season. Every doctor recommended that I not undergo another operation and I have tried to look for alternatives, but by the looks of things nothing is working positively for it. Now I have to assess my options and see what I can do. It is probably the most difficult moment of my career. I will do my best to find a solution but in this moment it is difficult to imagine what it could be.”

Cal Crutchlow

“I think to come away with a seventh place we can be very happy. It was a good start to the season considering I do not have any experience racing the Honda. The guys I was battling with riding a factory Honda, are a lot longer than me, and we all saw that they struggled too. Being just over a second behind Dani Pedrosa and five behind Marc Marquez shows that we were all struggling for rear grip tonight in Qatar. I think this was about our pace for the weekend anyway and I made ​​it hard for myself with some mistakes early on in the race, but my pace was consistently good. If I had have got away with the guys in front I could possibly be around fourth or fifth. For Austin we have to improve, take our comments from this race and see what we can achieve there. It’s going to be difficult to challenge the guys at the front there, but it’s a learning curve for us. I do not think we’ve done a bad job at all, and we come away happy. “

Aleix Espargaro

“I can’t say I’m happy with this result as this is probably the worse position I’ve been in since last season and I honestly thought I would be higher-up in the classification. We had a few issues with the machine but we all know that the main problem now is the power. Engineers in Japan are working hard, I know, but unless we get some more horsepower, it will be very hard to get to the front. In any case I’ve also had good feelings from the race; I ended it and I got points, which was our objective. We are all fully focused on our development process and I’m sure we will get even better results soon.”

Maverick Viñales

“It’s been an amazing experience! Racing with the top riders in MotoGP™ is something unbelievable and I’m so happy with the experience. The race has been strange; soon after the start I had some issues with the electronics and I lost some traction control, so I had to rely only on my wrist, but the machine was performing well so I decided to keep on and finally I ended the race and got two points. This was our priority, so I’m satisfied. We know where we need to improve and also what went wrong with this race, so we can work on it and hopefully be even more effective in the next race. ”

Bradley Smith

“I must admit that despite the good result, I am slightly disappointed as we were so close to being the top satellite bike at Qatar. This is our ambition for the year, so to miss this opportunity is a bit annoying. However, to finish only half a second back from Cal isn’t bad at all, especially at this early stage of the season. I had a good feeling with the bike during the whole race and we kept a consistent pace. Yet, I wasn’t really able to race how I wanted to and I had to remain riding in a smooth style throughout the whole distance. This was a bit difficult when battling with the Honda or Ducati’s because those bikes require different riding styles, which need the rider to be a bit more aggressive. Nevertheless to finish 8th and collect some valuable points as well as some useful experience and being so close to our objective of the top satellite bike is not a disappointment. In addition, we will improve and learn from Jorge and Valentino in order to be closer to the front at Austin.”

Pol Espargaro

“It’s been a difficult weekend for us. We experienced some issues on the first two days, yet we were able to improve them yesterday and during this morning’s warm up, I felt truly confident on the bike. Having said that, we have had a slight problem with the electronics throughout the weekend, which we were not able to clarify so we didn’t adjust the traction control in order to remain in the best possible way. Therefore the setup of the anti wheelie also wasn’t ideal and I lost a lot in acceleration. I just couldn’t pass the riders in front and I was often late on the brakes, so to be honest it was a real struggle. However, the main positive is that we managed to finish the Grand Prix and in any case, this weekend is normally a bit of an unusual one as we run at night and the conditions of the track are always changing so it’s difficult to take conclusion out of today’s race. Of course, I’m not over the moon about today’s result as it was not my ambition. Yet, now we have to work on solving these problems at the next race in Austin where we must take advantage of the weekend as soon as the first session commences.”

Scott Redding

“It was a tough race and certainly not where I expected to be finishing. The target was to finish inside the top 10, so I can’t be happy to be 13th. We are making steps in the right direction but not enough to bring us closer to our target. Turning is the biggest issue and we need to focus on that because I should be finishing much higher up on the package I am riding. We’ve collected a lot of data and I finished in the points, but it is clear there is plenty of room to improve.”

Yonny Hernandez

“I am very happy with what we have done this week. I want to thank Giacomo Guidotti and the whole team: this success is all ours. And we are on the right path to continue on the challenge to get to the Top10.  Managing to stay and fight in the group made by the 4 leading racers for the first laps felt great besides being an incentive to contnue to work hard. The level of the Moto Gp is very high but we keep up with it. My team allowed me to be in the right conditions to fight for the first positions. Physically I feel better, the injury to the shoulder has become only a memory. And I am sure we can do much better.”

Danilo Petrucci

“The evaluation of this week end is very positive but I am sure we can do better during the race. I didn’t start off well but eventually I recovered during the first two bends and I managed to gain a position. Later I felt that something strange was going on with the back tire and that made me waste almost 5 seconds in laps. Things then got better and I eventually went faster…even better than the beginning. This is only the first race and I am sure that in Austin we will do better. Three Italian racers on the podium? I am very happy with it. My target is being one of them one day. I hope it will happen very soon. In the meantime let me thank the team that did a great job. We have to continue this way because we are doing it right.”

Stefan Bradl

“I cannot say I’m satisfied at all with this race, even if I was close to the lead of the Open and I was finally able to battle with my rivals. I was really close to win my class, but at the last corner I braked too late and Viñales and Barbera passed me. It has been a difficult weekend but I’m happy with the work done by the team and I have come to know more about the Yamaha Forward. It was not a bad race, not counting the small final mistake, I proved to be able to fight with the other Open bikes.”

Loris Baz

“I did not start well, but I recovered quickly and I started to get close to the points-zone. Unfortunately, after a couple of laps, I started to lose grip on the front and the bike became difficult to ride. I did not want to risk it and I came back to the pits to change tyres. Too bad, I was really close to the points and with new tyres I kept the same pace as those fighting for the Top15. Overall it was a good weekend: I learned so much and I have collected a lot of info for the race in Austin.”