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Spaniards win all three Qatar Moto races at start of season

Published: Updated:

Spain's double world champion Jorge Lorenzo drew first blood by taking the MotoGP floodlit season-opener from pole in Qatar on Sunday (April 7) as Italian great Valentino Rossi stormed to second.

Lorenzo finished in 42 minutes 39.802 seconds, with team mate Rossi, back on a Yamah after two years with Ducati, 5.990 seconds behind.

The Italian seven-time champion started seventh on the grid and won a great tussle with 20-year-old Honda new boy Marc Marquez, as the pair exchanged daring passes in the closing stages before the 34-year-old kept the Spanish hotshot at bay on the final lap.

Marquez was grinning from ear to ear after pushing his boyhood idol all the way in a thrilling opener.

Title favourite Dani Pedrosa, also from Spain, was fourth, 9.473 seconds behind Lorenzo.

Afterwards Lorenzo said he was particularly pleased for Rossi.

‘The first lap was difficult to open this gap because (Dani) Pedrosa, he didn't want me to go away, but finally, little by little, I open two-tenths more on every lap and then was a little bit more but, very good result, I'm happy for Yamaha and happy for Valentino (Rossi) because he has passed two very difficult years and I think it's a good result for, for the company and for the next race.’

Spain's Pol Espargaró had to fight hard against Scott Redding and Takaaki Nakagami before winning the Moto2 race -- his first podium finish in the category.

Although Espargaro started from pole position, Nakagami took the lead.

Ratthapark Wilairot took a ride-through penalty for a false start, while Louis Rossi, Axel Pons and Anthony West fell early on. Further crashes followed, involving Mike de Meglio, Mattia Pasini, Ricard Cardús and Wilairot.

Redding overtook Nakagami on the ninth lap, then Espargaró passed the Japanese and it became a battle between the Europeans for top spot. The Spaniard passed the British rider for the lead with five laps to go and Redding tried, but failed to come back on the final lap.

Espargaro's time was 40 minutes 31.782 seconds and Redding finished 0.844 of a second behind him.

Luis Salom won an exciting Moto3 race, just beating three more Spaniards -- Maverick Viñales, Álex Rins and Álex Márquez -- and Jonas Folger of Germany.

Salom secured his first ever pole on Saturday at the Losail circuit, but in Sunday's race Rins took the lead with the other four in very close pursuit.

The lead kept changing, but Folger effectively ended his chance of a win when he ran wide on the seventh lap.

Rins and Márquez appeared to be battling for first place, but then Viñales came good on the penultimate lap, only for Salom to take the lead on the last lap and finish in 38 minutes 26.589 seconds; the gap to fifth-placed Folger was less than one second.

Female rider Ana Carrasco finished 20th.