Rossi wins epic opening MotoGP

Nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi opened the 2015 MotoGP season in spectacular style with a thrilling victory for Yamaha under the floodlights in Qatar Sunday.

He battled it out with fellow Italian Andrea Dovizioso over the final laps, denying the Ducati rider his first victory at this level in a nailbiting finish.

Dovizioso's teammate Andrea Iannone took the final podium place, just ahead of Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo, who had led on his Yamaha until midway.

Reigning two-time world champion Marc Marquez never recovered from an appalling start which saw him slip back to last, but he battled through the field for fifth on his Honda, just ahead of teammate Dani Pedrosa.

But it is the 36-year-old Rossi who took the plaudits, coming from eighth on the grid to take the lead at the Losail International Circuit in Doha.

It was his 83rd win in motorcycling's premier category and in his view one to savor.

"This was one of the best victories for me," he told the official MotoGP website.

"The bike was fantastic, I never gave up but it was a real fight with the Ducatis and the Hondas who were really strong."