Francesco Bagnaia (SKY Racing Team VR46) took a sensational maiden victory in the Grand Prix of Qatar, beating his compatriot Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP40) to the line as the victory was decided on the final lap under the floodlights. The 2017 rookie of the year secured his team’s debut victory in the class and began his season in the best possible way, as Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) rounded out the podium.
Getting a strong start off the line as the lights went out, Bagnaia took the lead into the first corner with the sun still in the sky, as pole position man Marquez had a slight moment with Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) in the run up to the opening corner. But it was the Italians making a break in the opening lap, with Bagnaia and Baldassarri leading the way ahead of Marquez, who quickly recovered from the wobble.
Setting the pace in the opening laps of 20, the SKY Racing Team VR46 rider began to pull out a lead around the Losail International Circuit with Baldassarri and Marquez chasing him down. The 32 riders kept the fight close with day turning to night throughout the first Moto2™ fight of the season. But they soon fell into a rhythm, with Bagnaia taking control of the race and leading the way ahead of the duo, and excitement filled the field as a group of five riders developed into a battle fourth.
Marquez fell into problems as he was close to overtaking the Pons HP40 bike for second, running off track through turn one of lap 15, with his rear brake disc glowing under the night sky. However this was not an issue set to end his race early, and the 21 year old clung onto the final podium spot, holding off Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) who took fourth position.
Continuing to lead into the penultimate laps, Bagnaia was etching ever closer to securing his debut victory in Moto2™, but Baldassarri began to hunt down his compatriot in the lead and the fight was neck and neck on the final lap. Getting into the strongest possible position on the final lap, Italian Baldassarri made his move into the penultimate corner and briefly took the lead however Bagnaia stole it straight back, holding his advantage following the long run to the line.
Oliveira finished in a distant top five, but was able to hold off Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) who secured sixth position overall after some tough battles throughout the race. Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Intact GP) took eighth, beating his team-mate Xavi Vierge (Dynavolt Intact GP) by just 0.097 over the line. Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) won his battle for ninth, ahead of Jorge Navarro (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) who rounded out the top ten.
Making a very credible debut in the Moto2™ class, Joan Mir (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) moved up from 24th position on the grid to take a top 11 finish, ahead of Remy Gardner (Tech 3 Racing) in 12th position. 13th went to Hector Barbera (Pons HP40), who crossed the line 0.007 behind Gardner, as Simone Corsi (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) took 14th, and Dominique Aegerter (Keifer Racing) secured the final points scoring finish this weekend in Qatar.
There were just two riders to not meet the chequered flag in the Grand Prix of Qatar, and it was a bad day for Swiss Innovative Investors. Iker Lecuona parked his bike up on the 10th lap, whilst team-mate Sam Lowes had a tough return, crashing out through turn 16.
GRAND PRIX OF QATAR
Moto2 Race Classification 2018
|1||25||42||Francesco BAGNAIA||ITA||SKY Racing Team VR46||Kalex||160.0||40’19.802|
|2||20||7||Lorenzo BALDASSARRI||ITA||Pons HP40||Kalex||160.0||+0.112|
|3||16||73||Alex MARQUEZ||SPA||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||Kalex||159.7||+5.625|
|4||13||54||Mattia PASINI||ITA||Italtrans Racing Team||Kalex||159.6||+6.657|
|5||11||44||Miguel OLIVEIRA||POR||Red Bull KTM Ajo||KTM||159.4||+10.296|
|6||10||41||Brad BINDER||RSA||Red Bull KTM Ajo||KTM||159.3||+10.344|
|7||9||23||Marcel SCHROTTER||GER||Dynavolt Intact GP||Kalex||159.3||+11.419|
|8||8||97||Xavi VIERGE||SPA||Dynavolt Intact GP||Kalex||159.3||+11.516|
|9||7||10||Luca MARINI||ITA||SKY Racing Team VR46||Kalex||158.7||+20.690|
|10||6||9||Jorge NAVARRO||SPA||Federal Oil Gresini Moto2||Kalex||158.7||+20.961|
|11||5||36||Joan MIR||SPA||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||Kalex||158.5||+23.025|
|12||4||87||Remy GARDNER||AUS||Tech 3 Racing||Tech 3||158.1||+30.292|
|13||3||40||Hector BARBERA||SPA||Pons HP40||Kalex||158.0||+30.299|
|14||2||24||Simone CORSI||ITA||Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2||Kalex||158.0||+30.732|
|15||1||77||Dominique AEGERTER||SWI||Kiefer Racing||KTM||158.0||+30.870|
|16||32||Isaac VIÑALES||SPA||SAG Team||Kalex||158.0||+31.052|
|17||52||Danny KENT||GBR||Beta Tools – Speed Up Racing||Speed Up||157.9||+31.958|
|18||64||Bo BENDSNEYDER||NED||Tech 3 Racing||Tech 3||157.9||+32.382|
|19||5||Andrea LOCATELLI||ITA||Italtrans Racing Team||Kalex||157.7||+35.228|
|20||20||Fabio QUARTARARO||FRA||Beta Tools – Speed Up Racing||Speed Up||157.7||+35.357|
|21||45||Tetsuta NAGASHIMA||JPN||IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia||Kalex||157.7||+35.969|
|22||4||Steven ODENDAAL||RSA||NTS RW Racing GP||NTS||157.3||+42.545|
|23||89||Khairul Idham PAWI||MAL||IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia||Kalex||157.2||+42.776|
|24||13||Romano FENATI||ITA||Marinelli Snipers Team||Kalex||157.1||+44.562|
|25||16||Joe ROBERTS||USA||NTS RW Racing GP||NTS||156.4||+56.077|
|26||62||Stefano MANZI||ITA||Forward Racing Team||Suter||156.1||+1’01.581|
|27||95||Jules DANILO||FRA||Nashi Argan SAG Team||Kalex||156.0||+1’01.853|
|28||63||Zulfahmi KHAIRUDDIN||MAL||SIC Racing Team||Kalex||155.4||+1’11.618|
|29||21||Federico FULIGNI||ITA||Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2||Kalex||154.9||+1’20.148|
|30||51||Eric GRANADO||BRA||Forward Racing Team||Suter||154.5||+1’26.192|
|22||Sam LOWES||GBR||Swiss Innovative Investors||KTM||157.9||10 Laps|
|27||Iker LECUONA||SPA||Swiss Innovative Investors||KTM||156.9||13 Laps|
Credits : Photos and content courtesy of MotoGP.com