MotoGP: Vinales victorious in ding-dong battle with Dovizioso

Johann Zarco looked set to mark his MotoGP debut with a sensational win but his crash allowed pole-sitter Maverick Vinales to claim victory.

Maverick Vinales started the 2017 MotoGP season in ideal fashion with victory in a rain-affected Qatar Grand Prix after taking advantage of Johann Zarco's crash and holding off Andrea Dovizioso.

Inclement weather at the circuit had seen Saturday's qualifying session washed out, with Movistar Yamaha's Vinales handed pole due to his performances in practice.

Further rain meant a delayed start for a race reduced to 20 laps on Sunday, but the ensuing drama ensured the season's opener was worth the wait for the fans in Lusail.

Vinales, who moved to Yamaha from Suzuki ahead of this campaign, prevailed in a ding-dong battle with Ducati's Dovizioso, which saw the lead change hands several times, with his team-mate Valentino Rossi taking third ahead of defending champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda).

Rookie Zarco, making his first MotoGP appearance after being crowned Moto2 champion in each of the past two years, started fourth but surged to the front and was well clear of Marquez, Andrea Iannone, Vinales and Dovizioso battling for second.

But the Monster Yamaha man span out at Turn 2 on his seventh lap, sliding face first across the gravel before getting to his feet and returning to the garage seemingly unhurt.

Iannone (Suzuki) was third when he slid out at the halfway stage and after Rossi overtook Marquez to move into a podium position, all eyes turned to the battle for first with Vinales emerging victorious.

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