Qatar MotoGP: Maverick Vinales wins season-opener for Yamaha

Maverick Vinales
Vinales had to work hard for his debut victory for Yamaha

Spain's Maverick Vinales held off the challenge of Andrea Dovizioso and Valentino Rossi to win Sunday's MotoGP season opener in Qatar.

Vinales, who moved to Yamaha this season, has been impressive over the winter and started from pole position.

After slipping back early, the 22-year-old took the lead with seven laps left.

Dovizioso did briefly go ahead after that but Vinales overhauled him with two laps to go and went on to seal his second MotoGP career victory.

Dovizioso held off Rossi for second but the 38-year-old nine-time world champion was thrilled with his performance after he started from 10th.

Current world champion Marc Marquez finished fourth.

The race was delayed for 45 minutes after heavy rain fell in Doha shortly before the scheduled start.

The weather had also forced the cancellation of Saturday's qualifying with starting grid positions based instead on combined practice times.

"It feels great. The track was so difficult but the bike was great," said Vinales afterwards.

"First lap I was taking a lot of care, then when the people started to push I said 'OK, now is the time to push' and I started to come back little by little - I didn't want to destroy the tyre."

In the earlier Moto3 race, Scotland's John McPhee made his way through the field to claim an impressive second place behind Spain's Joan Mir on his debut.

The riders now head to Argentina for the next race on 9 April.

Qatar MotoGP results:

1. Maverick Vinales (Spain) Yamaha 38:59.999

2. Andrea Dovizioso (Italy) Ducati 39:00.460

3. Valentino Rossi (Italy) Yamaha 39:01.927

4. Marc Marquez (Spain) Honda 39:06.744

5. Dani Pedrosa (Spain) Honda 39:07.127

6. Aleix Espargaro (Spain) Aprilia 39:07.660

7. Scott Redding (Britain) Ducati 39:09.781

8. Jack Miller (Australia) Honda 39:14.485

9. Alex Rins (Spain) Suzuki 39:14.787

10. Jonas Folger (Germany) Yamaha 39:15.068

11. Jorge Lorenzo (Spain) Ducati 39:20.515

12. Loris Baz (France) Ducati 39:21.254

13. Hector Barbera (Spain) Ducati 39:28.827

14. Karel Abraham (Czech Republic) Ducati 39:29.122

15. Tito Rabat (Spain) Honda 39:29.469

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