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Champion Lorenzo wins MotoGP opener

Spanish motorcycling star Jorge Lorenzo out in front during Sunday's Qatar Grand Prix in Doha.

Story highlights

  • Two-time world champion Jorge Lorenzo wins opening race of MotoGP season
  • Spaniard finishes almost six seconds clear of Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi
  • Seven-time world champion Rossi edges out Spanish rookie Marc Marquez

Jorge Lorenzo has started the new MotoGP season just as he did in 2012 -- with victory under lights in the Qatar Grand Prix.

The world champion, who like last year started the race from pole position, headed off his returning Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi to take the checkered flag with 5.9 seconds' advantage on Sunday.

Seven-time world champion Rossi, who clashed with Lorenzo before leaving to join Ducati in 2011, had to hold off rookie rider Marc Marquez before claiming his best result since last September's San Marino GP -- also won by Lorenzo.

Marquez, on his debut for Honda Repsol, delivered on the promise he showed in winning last year's Moto2 title as he made up for a poor start that dropped him five places to eighth.

Read: Lorenzo claims pole position in Qatar

The 20-year-old finished ahead of fellow Spaniard and teammate Dani Pedrosa, the championship runnerup last year, while Britain's Cal Crutchlow was fifth.

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"I was pretty nervous on the grid because it was my first MotoGP race," Marquez said. "I don't think I've ever been so nervous before. I found it hard to keep calm and I wasn't as focused as in Moto2.

"However, I regained my concentration at the last moment. The start was important and we knew that we were taking off from the dirty part of the track. I didn't get off well, but I was able to attack on the opening laps and overtake many riders -- I think that was the key."

Read: Marquez upstages Lorenzo in practice

He became the first rookie since Lorenzo five years ago, also at Doha's Losail circuit, to stand on the podium after his debut in the elite level of motorcycling.

"When I rode behind Dani I learnt a lot, also later on with Valentino. Fighting against him is always nice to watch, but it's always tough at the same time," Marquez said.

"Valentino was a tough rival to overtake on the final laps. He beat us this time, but we hope to learn from him and from everyone who went faster than us."

The next race of the 18-round competition is at the Circuit of Americas in Austin, Texas in two weeks' time.