It was worth waiting for. World champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) won the opening MotoGP of the season on Sunday at the Losail circuit in Qatar after a spectacular battle with motorcycling racing legend Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP).
Double MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) got off to a lightning quick start as he led after the first curve but was unable to repeat the success he enjoyed in his last two races in Qatar as he fell before the end of the first lap.
After Lorenzo's fall, German Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda) took first place while Marquez, Alvaro Bautista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini), Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Rossi fought in the chasing pack before Bradl too fell – clearing the way for a thrilling duel between the youngest champion in the history of the sport and the Italian star.
Over the remaining laps Marquez and Rossi were embroiled in their own personal battle for top spot while Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) fought Bautista until the latter also fell away.
Pedrosa would hold onto third place for the remainder of the race, giving him a front row seat to the battle ahead of him, which left the world breathless as the brave Spaniard crept ahead of Rossi in the penultimate lap.
In a thrilling conclusion the Italian, who became the oldest former premier class World Champion to take part in a premier class race since Giacomo Agostini in 1977, could not get close enough to the young Spaniard who sealed victory, despite breaking his leg last month while dirt biking.
Dani Pedrosa came in third while Britain's Cal Crutchlow (Ducati Team) and Scott Redding (GO&FUN Honda Gresini) finished sixth and seventh.
The riders will reconvene for the next race at the Circuit of The Americas in three weeks' time. Last year, Marc Marquez won the Grand Prix of the Americas, becoming the youngest rider to win a race in the sport's elite series where Dani Pedrosa was second.
Qatar MotoGP 2014 Results
1. Marc Marquez (Spain) Honda 42:40.561
2. Valentino Rossi (Italy) Yamaha 42:40.820
3. Dani Pedrosa (Spain) Honda 42:43.931
4. Aleix Espargaro (Spain) Yamaha 42:52.184
5. Andrea Dovizioso (Italy) Ducati 42:52.720
6. Cal Crutchlow (Britain) Ducati 43:09.087
7. Scott Redding (Britain) Honda 43:13.154
8. Nicky Hayden (USA) Honda 43:13.189
9. Colin Edwards (USA) Yamaha 43:20.108
10. Andrea Iannone (Italy) Ducati 43:23.921
11. Hiroshi Aoyama (Japan) Honda 43:27.156
12. Yonny Hernandez (Colombia) Ducati 43:27.249
13. Karel Abraham (Czech Republic) Honda 43:31.142
14. Danilo Petrucci (Italy) ART 43:43.688
15. Broc Parkes (Australia) PBM 43:54.947
16. Michael Laverty (Britain) PBM 44:13.154
17. Mike Di Meglio (France) Avintia 44:16.646
Alvaro Bautista (Spain) Honda 38:49.998 2 laps
Bradley Smith (Britain) Yamaha 34:58.777 4 laps
Pol Espargaro (Spain) Yamaha 33:15.444 5 laps
Stefan Bradl (Germany) Honda 15:35.351 14 laps
Hector Barbera (Spain) Avintia 8:01.944 18 laps
Jorge Lorenzo (Spain) Yamaha