Moto3: Martin holds off Canet for victory in Qatar

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Jorge Martin opened the 2018 FIM Moto3 World Championship with victory in Qatar after holding off a hard charge from Aron Canet to cross the line 0.023 seconds ahead of the Estrella Galicia rider.

Shrugging off a crash in morning warm up, Martin took the lead on lap one and tried to break free from the chasing pack as they fought behind, but it wasn’t going to be that easy for the Spaniard as Canet and polesitter Niccolo Antonelli pushed hard in the early stages.

As Antonelli slipped back, Enea Bastianini, who qualified tenth, made his way to the front to make it a three-way battle for the win. However, disaster would strike for the Leopard Honda rider as he crashed out at turn six on lap ten.

As Martin resumed the lead, the Spanish duo at the front had a comfortable buffer to the chasing pack behind with Canet tucking in behind the Gresini Honda in a comfortable second place awaiting an end of race showdown.

However, a commanding last lap from Martin would see him hold off Canet’s charge in the slipstream down Qatar’s main straight to take the first victory of the year.

Lorenzo Dalla Porta made it a bittersweet day for the Leopard team as he came out on top of ten bike scrap for third.

Sic58 Squadra Corse’s Niccolo Antonelli took fourth ahead of Gabriel Rodrigo with Fabio Di Giannantonio recovering from a poor qualifying to finish sixth.

Kaito Toba crossed the line seventh for Honda Team Asia ahead of countryman Ayumu Sasaki with Jakub Kornfeil and Andrea Migno rounding out the top ten.

Britain’s John McPhee was able to make use of his harder rear tyre choice to move from 18th in the early stages of the race into the podium battle before a crash on the last lap ruled him out ahead of the dash to the line. 

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Oli Rushby

By Oli Rushby

Former sports reporter covering British Superbikes, World Superbikes and road racing