Pipping incumbent MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez (#93) of Repsol Honda on the final lap, Andrea Dovzioso (#4) of Ducati Team took the initial win of the 2018 MotoGP World Championship season. Meanwhile, fan favourite Valentino Rossi (#46), who recently renewed his contract with Yamaha Racing to 2020, came in third, cocking a snook at nay-sayers who said “The GOAT” was past it.

As the flag dropped for the start, Johann Zarco (#5) of Tech 3 Yamaha took the lead from pole position, staying ahead despite keen competition from a 10 man train wanting to get in front. Despite clocking several fastest laps during the course of the 22 lap race, Zarco relinquished the lead on lap 18, when Dovizioso and Marquez charged to the fore, pushing Zarco back two places in the process.

The duo then went at it hammer-and-tongs for the remainder of the race, and despite a move by Marquez in turn 15 on the final lap, Dovizioso took his Ducati Desmosedici to the chequered flag just 0.027 seconds ahead of Marquez. Rossi was in the thick of the action, fending off rivals and clawing his way to third position from fifth, beating Cal Crutchlow (#35) of LCR Honda Castrol who finished as highest ranking independent team rider while Danilo Petrucci (#9) of Alma Pramac Racing on a Ducati rounded out the top five.

While Zarco eventually finished the race in Losail in eighth position, team mate Hafizh Syahrin (#55), better known as “El Pescao” who is making his MotoGP debut, finished in the points in 14th position on his Yamaha YZR-M1, earning two world championship points and beating Karel Abraham (#17) of Angel Nieto Team who was riding a Ducati.

In Moto2, Francesco Bagnaia (#42) of Sky Racing Team VR46 won the season opener, while Malaysian racers Khairul Idham Pawi (#89) of Idemitsu Honda Team Asia and Zulfahmi Khairuddin of SIC Racing Team came in 21st and 28th, respectively. Jorge Martin (#88) of Del Conca Gresini Moto3 won the junior class, while Malaysian Adam Norrodin (#7), riding for Petronas Sprinta Racing came in 11th, winning five championship points.

Malaysia has riders in every category of the Motorcycle World Championship, with Hafizh Syahrin making his MotoGP debut this year. The MotoGP circus moves to Argentina for the next race, which takes place on April 6 to 8 at Rio Hondo.