MotoGP warhorse Valentino Rossi gambled on tyre choice and it paid off with a superb victory at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina — but only after a penultimate lap clash with Marc Marquez that left the reigning world champion a DNF and now 30pts behind his Italian rival in the general standings.
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Marc Marquez left most observers breathless with his mesmerising pole-setting qualifying performance on Saturday, so his clinical victory in the 21-lap race — his third in a row at the Circuit of The Americas (COTA) — was quite elementary. The irrepressible Spaniard took over the running from Andrea Dovizioso four laps in, and then immediately began pulling a gap which extended to over four seconds before he coasted to the finish line for his first victory of the year. Marquez is now third in the standings behind Valentino Rossi and Dovizioso ahead of next week's round three in Argentina.
Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha), Dovizioso and Iannone made the running from the start, while Rossi was languishing in 10th and it was even more dire for reigning world champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda): he ran wide at turn one just after the start and had to pick his way back through the field from last position.
Losail came onto the world championship calendar back in 2004 and has been the season-opening round since 2007, when Australian Casey Stoner came up with the goods in his first ride on the factory Ducati. Losail is one of the longest tracks on the calendar at 5.38km, and comprises 10 right-hand corners and six lefts as well as a slipstream-friendly 1km long start and finish straight.
Andrea Dovizioso set the fastest time on day 2 of the MotoGP™ test in Qatar, as less than 1 second separated the top 14 riders.
Overcast conditions greeted the teams as they arrived at the 5.4 km circuit in Losail, with most riders preferring to wait until the floodlights came on before heading out on track.
The factory Ducati Team dominated proceedings under the floodlights on the first day of the final preseason test at the Losail International Circuit.
With most teams waiting until at least 6pm before heading out on track for the conditions to be more reflective of when they will race here in two weeks time, it took a while for the action to heat up at the 5.4 km circuit.
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