The 2019 season exploded into action on March 11 in Qatar at Losail International Circuit Sports Club. Andrea Dovizioso led the first seven laps, while Alex Rins and his Suzuki led the pack for the next three. Dovizioso regained his lead until lap 21, when Marc Márquez took over briefly.
“[Rins] wanted to be faster too soon, and that was bad for the tire,” said Dovizioso. “Fortunately, I had more power on the straight. I lost a little bit of time in the middle of the corner because his speed in the middle of the corner was amazing. But I was able to overtake him every time and continue to save the tire. That was the key to try to put Marc on the limit in the last few laps. It helped me to understand Márquez’s bad situation on the rear tire.”
In the end, Dovizioso took first, eclipsing Márquez by .023 seconds. LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow placed third and Rins was fourth. 40-year-old Valentino Rossi finished fifth, though he started in 14th place. He was just a 0.6 second behind Dovizioso.
All eyes were on Australian Jack Miller during the second lap when he had to slow down to deal with a loose seat unit on his Ducati. After throwing the seat out, he was able to climb back into the top ten. But without the grip of the seat to move his body properly, he had to retire from the race during lap 13. “The seat is glued on to the subframe,” he said. “And with the subframe being painted, the paint didn’t stick well enough and the glue ripped the seat and the paint off.”
In other news, rookie Fabio Quartararo had a rough start during the race. He had to begin from the pit lane after his Yamaha stalled on the grid. But despite this rocky start he was the fastest man on the track early on, and ended up finishing 16th in the race, just missing out on a point-scoring position. Quartararo, who showed promise during testing and throughout practice, was fifth in FP2 and FP4, qualifying fifth.
Following the race, it’s evident the Hondas are essentially even with Ducati where speed is concerned. Yahama on the other hand didn’t fare quite as well, though they have done well in Qatar in past. We can’t wait to see what the next race brings.