Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez was able to secure a podium finish as he struggled to keep up with the pace of the Ducati’s on Losail International circuit’s 1km stright.
With a slower pace over winter testing and not setting the world alight in practise and qualifying over the weekend, it was set to be interesting to see how Marquez could keep up with the front runners. However he was able to be up and fighting for the top step of the podium under the floodlights in Qatar.
Locked in a fight with Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso in the closing laps of the opening round of the season but the Spaniard found it tough to make it past the Ducati with it’s impressive top end speed.
In a tense last lap it looked as is Marquez was able to steal second but lost out on the final corner: “I’m happy with this third place because I know that we gave our all and just two weeks ago we were one second off the pace compared to the other guys on the podium. The race was faster than we expected and we had a great weekend, because we got 100% out of our performance at a circuit that we find hard.
I spent much of the race behind Dovizioso because I couldn’t pass him, and it was difficult to make up the ground lost with his better acceleration on the straight. Whenever I got close, I’d lose him again. Although I knew it would be difficult, I made another attempt with 4 laps remaining -but he overtook me on the last lap. I tried again in the last corner but it wasn’t possible. I hope that the circuits coming up on the calendar favour us a little more.”
Team-mate Dani Pedrosa had a steady start to his 2016 campaign, one which he felt he may not be able to begin last season when he suffered injuries.
Becoming famous for having a stronger pace towards the end of the race, Pedrosa kept close to the race leaders until the closing stages as didn’t have the pace to keep up on his RC213V.
Despite running wide on the first corner and pulling his position back, he crossed the line 14 seconds behind: “It was a difficult race. I started well but I ran wide at the first corner. Nevertheless, I was only down in fifth or sixth place, which was a good position from which to follow the lead group, but my pace was not good enough and gradually I lost touch.
The negative side to this race is the result and the distance from the winner, but the positive is that I learned more about the bike and maybe we can improve for the next race. Physically, I also held up very well. We knew that this was a difficult track for us, but now we must look ahead to Argentina.”