Maverick Viñales (Yamaha) has won the first round of the 2017 MotoGP Championship in Qatar, March 26.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) and Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) rounded out the placings.
Viñales said the win was a weight off his shoulders, “I led all the tests and arrived here thinking of winning.
“After a perfect FP1 and with all the pressure to win it wasn’t easy.
“I did it and I felt really happy, very satisfied and very motivated for Argentina,” he said.
But the big surprise was early leader and GP rookie Johann Zarco (Yamaha), who lead the opening third of the race.
Zarco didn’t look like losing, until he lost the front – from in front…EARLY LEADER: Johann Zarco
Despite the DNF, Zarco was upbeat, “I decided to relax, and maybe I went off the racing line a little bit and then I fell at the second corner.
“This is a shame but we are always on the limit and I still need to learn the category so this kind of mistake is part of my lesson as a rookie in MotoGP.
“I am happy in the end, it’s a pity about the result but it’s important for my confidence and I am excited for the Argentina round.”
Dovizioso took the lead on Lap 9 after Zarco’s fall, which left the battle for second between Andrea Iannone (Suzuki) and Marc Marquez (Honda).
Both fought until Iannone fell on Lap 11 with the Factory Yamahas closing in quick.
Viñales and Rossi overtook Marquez, but Viñales was slightly quicker, overtaking Dovi on Lap 14.
The Spaniard and Italian duked it out until the penultimate lap, when Viñales made his move and was too strong in the final stages of the race.
Honda took fourth and fifth with Marquez and Dani Pedrosa.
Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro took sixth, the best result for the Italian marque since its return to MotoGP in 2015.
Aussie Honda satellite rider Jack Miller finished eighth, two places in front of Ducati’s big signing Jorge Lorenzo.That’s our Jack!
Who knows where he could have finished if he wasn’t riding it like this?
Cal Crutchlow crashed twice and retired from the race.