MotoGP: Marc Marquez edges out Valentino Rossi to clinch victory in Qatar
Last Updated: 23/03/14 8:50pm
Marc Marquez: Proved too strong for Valentino Rossi in wheel-to-wheel duel
World champion Marc Marquez won the opening MotoGP race of the season in Qatar after coming out on top in a thrilling battle with Valentino Rossi.
The Repsol Honda rider, who was racing just one month after breaking his leg in a dirt-bike accident, crossed the finish line 0.295 seconds ahead of Rossi.
The duo passed and re-passed each other on numerous occasions in the closing stages but it was Marquez who found an extra gear on the final lap.
"I enjoyed the race a lot, I did not expect the result but yesterday I had a good feeling fighting with Valentino," Marquez said.
Rossi trailed his rival across the line while Marquez's Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa completed the podium. Aleix Espargaro was fourth.
Rossi said: "At the beginning I was a little unclear in my mind, do I attack? Then I said 'I go, I try', but after Marc was stronger.
"I had the potential to try at the end but unfortunately he was a little too far. But anyway it's a great result and I hope to continue like this."
Double champion Jorge Lorenzo took the lead from the start but crashed out before the end of the opening lap, with Stefan Bradl taking over at the head of the field.
But Bradl also slid out of the race on the ninth lap, setting up the battle between Marquez and Rossi.
British rider Bradley Smith was fighting for the podium positions at one point but fell back and eventually crashed out. Compatriot Cal Crutchlow came home sixth behind Ducati team-mate Andrea Dovizioso, while Scott Redding made it two Brits in the top seven.