Andrea Dovizioso won the MotoGP Czech Republic Grand Prix. Pic:
Andrea Dovizioso won the MotoGP Czech Republic Grand Prix. Pic:

Dovizioso holds on to win thrilling Czech Republic MotoGP

ANDREA Dovizioso has withstood a three-bike scrap to claim victory in a thrilling Czech Republic Grand Prix.

Dovizioso fought off teammate Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez to win in his 100th race for Ducati, his first victory since the season-opener in Qatar five months ago.

"I'm so happy," he grinned. "It was really difficult.

"When you see on the pitboard 'Group of 3' and 'Jorge and Marc', it's not good.

"I'm happy with the way I managed that, also because we were fighting with the grip. So, it wasn't just about speed, but speed and the sliding."

Valentino Rossi pipped Cal Crutchlow for fourth place, with Danilo Petrucci, Johann Zarco, Dani Pedrosa, Alvaro Bautista and Andrea Iannone completing the top 10.

Jack Miller worked his way up to 12th place at the finish, his healthy race pace unable to overcome a lowly grid position after crashing at a crucial phase of qualifying.

Rossi led the early corners after a lightning start. Pic:
Rossi led the early corners after a lightning start. Pic:

Rossi took a rare holeshot to lead the field into Turn 1 before the pole-winning Ducati blasted back past a few corners later.

The field had already been trimmed by three by that point. A crash at the back into Turn 3 ended Maverick Vinales' tough weekend, with Stefan Bradl and Bradley Smith also in the gravel.

The latter's crash ended a dismal day for KTM, who'd already lost Pol Espargaro to a broken collarbone after a crash in the warm-up.

Dovizioso led an 11-bike train through the early laps, the contenders all conserving tyres with a steady pace despite cloud cover making for cooler than expected track temperatures.

The 11 bikes became an even 10 on Lap 9, Tito Rabat's impressive ride ending with a mechanical problem.

Rossi, using the medium Michelin front to everyone else's hard, took a turn at the front of the group before being taken by both Dovizioso and Marquez in the space of a couple of corners on Lap 11.

Behind them, Crutchlow and Lorenzo were enjoying a fierce scrap for fourth, each picking off Rossi by the end of Lap 12.

Dovizioso led the group into the closing laps.
Dovizioso led the group into the closing laps.

With 10 laps to go the leading group was down to six; Dovizioso, Marquez, Crutchlow, Lorenzo, Rossi and Petrucci dropping Zarco, who in turn had dropped the two Suzukis and Pedrosa.

After circulating in the mid-1:57s, Dovizioso put the hammer down with five laps to go. The Ducati rider suddenly dropped into the 1:56s and the game was on.

Marquez and Lorenzo were able to go with him, Crutchlow and Rossi settling into their own battle for fourth.

Patient since the start, Lorenzo made a bold move for the lead at Turn 14 with four laps to go. He first dove under Marquez, then used his momentum to sweep into the lead at the final corner, only for Dovizioso to cut back under and lead across the line.

Lorenzo tried it on again when they reached Turn 4 on the next lap, once again running wide and allowing his teammate back ahead.

Lorenzo muscled his way past Marquez several times. Pic:
Lorenzo muscled his way past Marquez several times. Pic:

The Spaniard made a carbon-copy attempt on the penultimate lap, Dovizioso ensuring the same result - leaving his teammate much less room this time around.

Marquez kept a watching brief as the esrtwhile teammates duelled, but pulled the pin as the leading trio began the last lap.

The Honda squeezed under Lornezo at Turn 3 only for the Ducati to dive back past at Turn 5, nearly brushing the Repsol bike on his way past.

Their squabbling allowed Dovizioso to eke out a crucial margin, one Lorenzo was unable to peg back before they reached the chequered flag.

Both Ducati riders set their fastest laps of the race on that final tour, Lorenzo setting the overall quickest lap despite his battle with Marquez.

Behind them, Rossi pipped Crutchlow for fourth by millimetres, with Petrucci and Zarco next.

Pedrosa held off Bautista for eighth, both working their way past the Suzukis in the closing laps, with Andrea Iannone pipping teammate Alex Rins for the final spot in the top 10.

Miller was next from rookies Franco Morbidelli and Hafizh Syahrin, with Aleix Espargaro scoring the final point for Aprilia.

Thomas Luthi, Takaaki Nakagami, Karel Abraham, Suzuki wildcard Sylvain Guintoli and Xavier Simeon were the remaining finishers.

Along with the trio that crashed on the opening lap, Scott Redding crashed out on Lap 5.

Marquez extended his lead despite finishing third, his margin at the top of the standings now 49 points over Rossi, with Dovizioso now third a further 19 points adrift.

The championship heads to the Red Bull Ring next weekend for the Grand Prix of Austria.