The new MotoGP season sparked into life under the floodlights of the Losail circuit in Qatar. On the podium was the winner, Jorge Lorenzo, his team mate Valentino Rossi and the new boy Marc Marquez.
Lorenzo started his charge to become a triple champion as he led from lights to chequered flag. Despite claiming in the post race press conference that he was pushing right to the extreme limit he made his victory look routine; a sharp warning to the rest of the pack.
The man most concerned about the events of Qatar is most likely to be Honda’s Dani Pedrosa. After a storming second half of 2012, where he had the upper hand over Lorenzo, he began 2013 with a disappointing fourth place.
A fourth place with his rookie team mate third perhaps being the fact that will linger longest in the back of his mind.
A rookie has rarely entered MotoGP with as much expectation and promise as Marc Marquez. Winter testing showed the young Spaniard was quickly up to the pace but it was predicted that Pedrosa would prevail with Marquez perhaps nipping at his heels over the course of the season.
Worryingly for Pedrosa however, Marquez disposed of his team mate relatively easily and appeared to relish the test of taming his new 1000cc superbike. Of course results from one race could turn out to be completely anomalous, so it would be rash to claim Marquez has already nicked Pedrosa’s number one role at Honda. Chances are though, that eventually this will be a transition Pedrosa will have to accept.
As for the team, Honda look like they need a little bit more pace to catch the Yamahas, however promisingly for Pedrosa the team already know where the improvements can come from and have the resources to quickly implement them.
Finishing in between the winning Yamaha and the two Hondas was a man who it was a joy to see succeed. Back on a more compliant and altogether faster bike, Valentino Rossi overcame an early mistake when he went wide at turn one while attempting to pass Pedrosa to confidently pass both Hondas on his way to a strong second.
Behind these four was Britain’s Cal Crutchlow, who failed to convert his promising pre race pace, which he used to qualified second into a podium finish. This is not to be taken as a slight against the guy though, as he had no right to be up with the factory Japanese bikes in the first place. Crutchlow indeed finished as the best of the rest, ahead of Alvaro Bautista and the four Ducatis, led themselves by Andrea Dovizioso.
Dovizioso began the first lap bang on the pace of the top four but proceeded to drop back as the failings of his Ducati overcame any skills he may have had up his rather handsome, Italian sleeve.
There are positives for the Italian camp however, Dovizioso himself finished 24 seconds behind Lorenzo, which equates to around a second a lap, a cut from their dire 2012 form.
Questions, questions, questions. One thing is for certain though, and that is that this MotoGP season could be the best the sport has had for a while.