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Dovizioso holds off Marquez for Qatar Win

Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso took victory in a closely-fought first MotoGP race of the 2018 season in Qatar, just 0.027s ahead of reigning champion Marc Marquez's Honda. Dovizioso and Marquez formed part of a 10-bike queue that headed the field for much of the race, with poleman Johann Zarco converting pole position into an early lead aboard the Tech 3 Yamaha.

It wasn't until lap 18 of 22 that Dovizioso and Marquez finally made their moves, both passing Zarco at Turn 1 and quickly distancing the Frenchman to engage in their own private duel for victory. In scenes reminiscent of their battles last year in Austria and Japan, the two 2017 title protagonists ran nose to tail for the final laps, with Marquez attempting a pass at the final corner on the last lap.

But Dovizioso managed to edge back ahead exiting the turn, getting superior traction and outdragging Marquez to the finish line by the tiny margin of 0.027s for his ninth career MotoGP victory. Seven tenths behind the lead duo was Valentino Rossi, who passed Zarco on the same lap as Dovizioso and Marquez but couldn't keep up the pace in the closing laps.

Cal Crutchlow was fourth on the LCR Honda, a further two seconds behind, ahead of Danilo Petrucci's Pramac Ducati. Both had been part of the leading group bottled up behind Zarco, but the extra lap they took to clear the satellite Yamaha allowed the leading three to escape. Zarco ended up slumping to eighth at the finish, losing out to the second works Yamaha of Maverick Vinales and the second factory Honda of Dani Pedrosa in the latter stages.

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