Lorenzo takes victory in thrilling MotoGP curtain-raiser in Qatar

JORGE Lorenzo led from the start with a textbook display of riding to clinch victory in the opening race of the 2013 MotoGP season in Qatar.

Teammate and nine-times world champion Valentino Rossi showed he has not lost any of his pace by making it a Yamaha one-two in second, fending off a spirited charge from Repsol Honda newcomer and MotoGP debutant Marc Marquez in third.

Despite dominating much of pre-season testing, Dani Pedrosa came a disappointing fourth after sitting in second place for much of the race.

For a while, a podium position looked possible for Tech3 Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow, but a mistake while duelling with Rossi saw him run off and he had to settle for fifth.

Teammate Bradley Smith crashed out on lap four.

All eyes were on the Repsol Hondas before the race, with many either tipping Pedrosa to continue his blinding form of late-2012 or Marquez to become the first rider since Max Biaggi to win on his MotoGP debut.

But it turned out to be a dream weekend for Yamaha, with Lorenzo maintaining his lead into the first corner and banging out flawless lap with uncompromising regularity to claim an impressive victory.

After a mistake on lap two forced him back to seventh, Rossi clawed his way up to fourth – forcing an error from Crutchlow in the process – before hunting down the two Hondas.

Marquez stalked then overhauled Pedrosa with five laps to go, and the senior Honda man was overtaken by the rampaging GOAT a lap later.

In a fascinating clash of the old and new generation of MotoGP riders, Rossi showed more nous to pass Marquez with three laps left.

Marquez returned the favour a lap later with an audacious pass, but Rossi made the telling overtake with a lap remaining and held off Marquez to cap off a stellar weekend for Yamaha.

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