It was a season opener with a bang for Andrea Dovizioso who took the first win of the season, besting Marc Marquez in a final sprint. The 2018 season could not have started better for the Italian, able to hold the Ducati banner high in Qatar on the day when Jorge Lorenzo crashed out of the race.
Thanks to the Losail win, the Italian has surpassed his teammate in the rankings of the riders with the longest Grand Prix winning span, eight years and 235 days after his memorable triumph at Silverstone. In this special ranking, where Valentino Rossi holds the top spot, the Borgo Panigale standard-bearer has snatched seventh place from the Majorcan, still stuck on his win in Valencia on the occasion of his last race with Yamaha (8 years and 214 days).
Rewinding to the opening round of Qatar, it is impossible to forget the head-to-head between Dovizioso and Marquez. The 27 thousandths of a second that separated the two at the finish make this the “narrowest” win in the history of the premier class looking at the opening rounds. This time, the Italian celebrated, but three years earlier he was forced to lay down his arms against Valentino Rossi to the tune of 174 thousandths.
In the rankings of first round victories on the razor’s edge, who can forget when Kevin Schwantz snatched the win from Mick Doohan by just over two tenths in 1991 at Suzuka (+0.204). And what about Valentino Rossi who, on his début with Yamaha at Welkom in 2004, bested his historic rival Max Biaggi by 210 thousandths.
In any case, one thing seems to be certain. Whenever Losail is in the mix, we have to wait until the final yard to declare a winner. Besides the challenge this year and in 2015, let’s not forget about the duel between Marquez and Rossi in 2014, ending in favour of the Spaniard by 259 thousandths, or last year’s GP, when Maverick Viñales got the upper hand over Andrea Dovizioso by less than half a second.