MotoGP Doha: Fabio Quartararo overcomes Ducati's challenge to win in Qatar
Fabio Quartararo bounced back from a slow getaway to secure an impressive victory for Monster Energy Yamaha at Losail.
The Frenchman's performance was almost identical to teammate Maverick Vinales' last Sunday. Quartararo was as low as ninth in the opening laps but bided his time, saved his tyres and then used the Yamaha's turning ability to his advantage.
Once he had disposed of the Ducati riders, Quartararo immediately bolted at the front, riding on the very edge of his M1 in order to do so. Quartararo opened a big enough gap to avoid being swallowed up by the Desmocedici on the home straight and took his fourth MotoGP victory.
It was a record-breaking race, with the top 15 being covered by 5.382s. That’s a new record, with the previous best being 8.326s at Brno in 2018.
Johann Zarco finished second once again in Qatar, securing France’s first-ever one-two in the premier class, and as a result he now leads the championship. The Pramac Racing Ducati rider managed to overtake teammate Jorge Martin on the final lap. Zarco becomes the first French rider to reach 50 podiums across all three GP classes.
Martin was equally as impressive as the race winner, if not more so. After taking his maiden pole, Martin was sensibly and suggested that the race was about being a rookie once again, not about winning. Well, he almost did just that. After another fantastic launch off the line, Martin led 18 out the 20 laps and controlled the pace.
Alex Rins was the best of the rest in fourth spot after taking advantage of a couple of mistakes from Vinales. The latter was clearly worried about his Yamaha teammate edging away at the front and ran wide at the final corner on lap 19. He would make two more errors like this on the final lap, and it cost him a place.
Francesco Bagnaia was sixth, just ahead of reigning champion Joan Mir. The Suzuki rider had a tough race, including two encounters with Jack Miller. The duo touched twice on lap 13, firstly at turn 10 when Mir dived down the inside and then again on the start/finish straight. In what was a dangerous situation, the pair would hit each other towards the edge of the circuit but were fortunately able to stay on their respective bikes. Race direction investigated but did not take further action.
Brad Binder had his best day in Qatar - through the five days of testing and the opening round last weekend - in eighth spot after switching to the medium front tyre. Miller and Aleix Espargaro completed the top 10.
Enea Bastianini produced another impressive performance in 11th, ahead of Franco Morbidelli and Pol Espargaro. It was another tough day for both, with Espargaro running on at turn one just as he was catching the leading group.
A day after enduring his worst-ever qualifying session, Valentino Rossi limped home in 16th, just behind Miguel Oliveira. The latter fell back down the order after making a fantastic start, going from 12th on the grid to fourth.
LCR Honda's Alex Marquez and Tech3 KTM's Iker Lecouna were the only fallers in today's race.
Moto2 Doha: Sam Lowes fends off Remy Gardner to win again in Qatar
First published: 4 April 2021 at 17:56 by Josh Close
Both riders set their fastest laps of the race on the final lap, but Gardner was unable to find a way by the Brit. Lowes becomes the first Moto2 rider to win the opening two races of the season from pole position.
The Elf Marc VDS rider keeps his lead in the championship after winning both races so far in 2021. Lowes has a 10-point lead over Gardner, and it looks like the duo are going to have a fantastic, close-fought title fight this season.
Raul Fernandez clinched his maiden Moto2 podium in third spot, in only his second race in the intermediate class. The Red Bull KTM rider tried to stay with Lowes and Gardner but eventually fell back into a lonely third.
Marco Bezzecchi finished fourth for the second week running but was 3.418s behind Fernandez in third. Moto2 newcomer Ai Ogura secured his best result so far in fifth, whilst Augusto Fernandez also improved to finish sixth.
Celestino Vietti ensured that there were three rookies inside the top seven, whilst Stefano Manzi, Xavi Vierge and Fabio Di Giannantonio completed the top 10.
Both American riders crashed out of the race within a lap of each other. Joe Roberts went down at turn 14 after being pushed out wide by the strong winds, whilst Cameron Beaubier hit the deck at turn eight.
Tommason Marcon retired from the race due to a mechanical issue with his AV Agusta Forward Racing machine. Thomas Luthi became the fourth retirement when he crashed out of 21st place at turn two on lap 13.
Moments later Jake Dixon and Marcel Schrotter collided at turn 14, with both riders visibly in some discomfort in the gravel. The incident is being reviewed by race direction. Aron Canet also crashed out of contention, with the Aspar rider going down at turn 16.
Moto3 Doha: Pedro Costa takes a sensational maiden victory despite pit-lane start
First published: 4 April 2021 at 16:04 by Josh Close
The 16-year-old was over nine seconds behind the main group on the opening lap as he led the group of seven riders who were forced to begin the race from pit-lane after their FP2 antics.
Acosta caught the group with seven laps remaining and began working his way through the chaos ahead of him. He took the lead on the final lap and began to gap his rivals. It looked like Darryn Binder might steal it on the run to the line, but Acosta managed to hold on by 0.039s.
The rookie now leads the Moto3 championship after taking 45 points from the opening two races at the Losail International Circuit. He holds a nine-point advantage over Binder.
Acosta and Binder were joined on the podium by Niccolo Antonelli, who pipped Andrea Migno to the line by 0.032s. It's the Italian's first podium since the 2019 Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez.
Kaito Toba was fifth ahead of another rookie Izan Guevara and Ayumu Sasaki. Ryusei Yamanaka was eighth, whilst last week's winner Jaume Masia was ninth. The Red Bull KTM Ajo rider collided with Gabriel Rodrigo on the final lap at turn 10, forcing both riders wide. Rodrigo crossed the line in 12th.
Romano Fenati bounced back from his pit-lane start to complete the top 10, beating Jason Dupasquier to the line by 0.027s.
Xavi Artigas became the first rider to crash in the race on lap 12. The Leopard Racing rider was taken out by Carlos Tatay at turn six. Moments later, Filip Salac fell at turn two after clipping fellow podium challenger Ayumu Sasaki.
Diaster would strike for John McPhee at the first corner as the field began the 15th lap. Jeremy Alcoba clipped the back of Binder's bike and was consequently sent straight into the air and into the direction of McPhee. The Scot had nowhere to go and was hit by Alcoba's exhaust. McPhee was visibly frustrated in the aftermath and vented his anger towards Alcoba. Race direction are looking into the incident.
At turn six on the very same lap, Tatay and Adrian Fernandez collided and went down at turn six. Sergio Garcia crashed out of the race at turn 10 on lap 17.
MotoGP Doha: Jorge Martin storms to his maiden MotoGP pole position
First published: 3 April 2021 by Josh Close
Other teams came out in force as the Spaniard rode down pit-lane, clapping their hands after an unbelievable performance. Martin stole top spot away from Pramac Racing Ducati teammate Johann Zarco with a 1:53.106 to set-off crazy celebrations inside the Pramac garage.
Zarco remained in second, 0.157s behind his rookie teammate. Maverick Vinales lost second spot by 0.008s but showcased impressive race pace earlier in the day and came extremely close to beating the Ducatis on the slower Yamaha M1.
A visibly frustrated Jack Miller was fourth for the factory Ducati team after losing time in the final sector of his final flying lap. Fabio Quartararo ensured that both factory Yamahas were inside the top five, which could be pivitol as they look to stay in touch with the Desmocedici riders in the early stages of the race.
Francesco Bagnaia was the fourth Ducati rider inside the top six, narrowly getting the better of Aleix Espargaro's Aprilia RS-GP. Espargaro starts tomorrow's race one place higher than last week's season opener at Losail.
Espargaro is joined on row three by the Suzuki duo of Alex Rins and Joan Mir. The latter had to go through Q1 for the second week running and was forced to use the same soft tyres in Q2 as the end of Q1. Like Espargaro, both riders will start the race one place higher than round one.
Franco Morbidelli completed the top 10 for Petronas Yamaha, with Stefan Bradl and Miguel Oliveira completing the first four rows of the grid. Bradl had a crash at turn 13 in FP4.
Luca Marini missed out on a spot in Q2 by just 0.008s and will start tomorrow's race from 13th on the grid. Alex Marquez was another 0.033s further back in 14th spot.
Pol Espargaro's second weekend as a Repsol Honda rider didn't get any easier as he continued to struggle with the front of the RC213V. After ditching his first run, Espargaro would eventually post three lap-times, the fastest of which, a 1:54.402, put him 15th overall.
Danilo Petrucci held a Q2 qualifying spot at one stage but ultimately fell down to 17th ahead of fellow KTM rider Brad Binder and rookie Enea Bastianini. Unbelievably, Valentino Rossi is sandwiched between Iker Lecouna and Lorenzo Savadori in 21st.
Tomorrow's MotoGP warm-up session will take place at 13:40, with the second race of the 2021 season scheduled to begin at 18:00.
Moto2 Doha: Back-to-back poles for Sam Lowes in Qatar
First published: 3 April 2021 at 17:22 by Josh Close
The Elf Marc VDS rider posted a 1:59.055 to clinch his 13th Grand Prix pole position and his 34th front row start in Moto2. Lowes was 0.137s quicker than his nearest challenger Remy Gardner, who continues to pose a threat on the Red Bull KTM Ajo bike.
Marco Bezzecchi completed row one, whilst rookie Raul Fernandez continues to shine in fourth spot. Remarkably, Fernandez hasn't qualified outside of the top six since Valencia 2019. Had he qualified inside the top three, it would have been his seventh straight front row start.
Jake Dixon bounced back from a tough opening day to equal his best GP qualifying efforts in fifth. The Brit was forced to go through Q1 but clearly found some pace this afternoon on the Petronas Sprinta Racing machine.
Ai Ogura made it two rookies inside the top six, ahead of Fabio Di Giannantonio and Joe Roberts. Aron Canet and Augusto Fernandez completed the top 10, with the latter having a lap cancelled earlier in the session for exceeding track limits.
2020 Moto3 champion Albert Arenas was 12th, whilst fellow newcomer Cameron Beaubier was 14th for Tennor American Racing.
Xavi Vierge missed out on a spot in Q2 by 0.104s, whilst Tony Arbolino and Thomas Luthi also failed to make it through.
Tomorrow's Moto2 warm-up is due to take place at 13:10, with the second race of the 2021 season scheduled for 16:20.
Moto3 Doha: Race one winner Jaume Masia takes pole at Losail
First published: 3 April 2021 at 16:27 by Josh Close
The Red Bull KTM Ajo rider left it late but was able to leap up the order from 16th to first with his final flying lap. Masia was the only rider to dip into the 2:05s, posting a lap-time of 2:05.913.
Sergio Garcia qualified second but will start the race from pit lane after being handed a penalty for his part in yesterday's FP2 antics - riding slowly and causing disruption. Instead, he will start from pole in the pit lane ahead of six other riders.
As a result, Jeremy Alcoba is promoted from third to second on the Indonesian Racing Gresini bike and will be joined on the front row by teammate Gabriel Rodrigo.
Tatsuki Suzuki will start the race from fourth on the grid, alongside Andrea Migno, who had to come through Q1. Darryn Binder completes the second row on the Petronas Sprinta Racing machine.
Teammate John McPhee is promoted to seventh on the grid as a result of Garcia's penalty. Pedro Acosta qualified ninth but will also start from the pits, with fellow rookie Izan Guevara taking advantage after initially qualifying 10th. He'll now start eighth, with Jason Dupasquier and Niccolo Antonelli completing the top 10.
Romano Fenati (14th), Stefano Nepa (15th) and Dennis Foggia (18th) will all start the race from pit lane after being punished for their antics in FP2.
Adrian Fernandez, younger brother of Moto2 rider Raul, narrowly missed out on a spot in Q2, as did Filip Salac, Lorenzo Fallon and Riccardo Rossi. The latter will also start tomorrow's race from pit lane following his reprimand for riding slowly in FP2.
Ayumu Sasaki, a podium contender in the opening race, also failed to make into Q2 after being unable to join a group of riders for a tow. His Tech3 teammate Deniz Öncü was unable to provide support following his crash earlier in the session. Andi Farid Izdihar also crashed out of the session at turn seven.
Tomorrow's Moto3 warm-up session is due to begin at 12:40, with the second race of the season scheduled for 15:00.
MotoGP Doha: Jack Miller leads a Ducati one-two-three on day one
First published: 2 April 2021 by Josh Close
Miller went to the top of the timesheets in the dying seconds of the session, mere minutes after almost being thrown over the handlebars of the Desmocedici. The Aussie's fastest lap-time of 1:53.145 was 0.313s quicker than teammate Francesco Bagnaia.
Johann Zarco completed the top three on his Pramac Racing Ducati, whilst Fabio Quartararo was able to interrupt Ducati's domination in fourth for Yamaha. MotoGP newcomer Jorge Martin made it four Ducati riders inside the top five.
Aleix Espargaro didn't return to the circuit for a final time attack, instead saving a set of soft tyres for a later practice session, but still managed to end the opening day sixth overall. The Aprilia rider also led the session at one stage.
An entertaining day for Franco Morbidelli ended with the Petronas Yamaha rider in seventh spot. During FP1, both of his bike suffered from a mechanical issue which led to smoke coming from the exhausts. In the afternoon Morbidelli was forced to use a third engine as a precaution.
Alex Rins was eighth on the Suzuki, with race one winner Maverick Vinales sneaking into ninth spot in the closing moments of the day. Stefan Bradl secured the final automatic Q2 qualification spot in 10th.
Friday proved to be a more encouraging day for KTM. Miguel Oliveira and Tech3's Danilo Petrucci narrowly missed out on an automatic Q2 spot, with the latter experimenting on the RC16 to try and create more stability on braking and corner entry.
It was another frustrating day for reigning champion Joan Mir. The Suzuki rider will have to go through Q1 for the second consecutive weekend. Valentino Rossi (14th) will join Mir in the opening qualifying session, alongside Honda riders Takaaki Nakagami, Alex Marquez and Pol Espargaro. Nakagama crashed at turn seven today, whilst Marquez hit the deck at turn 15.
MotoGP's FP3 session is due to begin at 13:15 tomorrow afternoon (April 3), and will be followed by FP4 at 17:20. Q1 is scheduled for 18:00, with Q2 taking place at 18:25.
Moto2 Doha: Raul Fernandez dominates day one at Losail
First published: 2 April 2021 at 18:16 by Josh Close
The Red Bull KTM Ajo rider posted a lap-time of 1:58.541 was over half-a-second faster than his nearest rival, Fabio Di Giannantonio. Fernandez continues to shine following his promotion to Moto2, having finished his debut race in fourth.
Remy Gardner completed the top three ahead of Joe Roberts and class rookie Ai Ogura, whilst last weekend's race winner Sam Lowes was seventh. The Brit had his final lap-time cancelled for exceeding track limits.
Celestino Vietti was eighth, whilst Marcel Schrotter and Nicolo Bulega completed the top 10. Bulega had a crash earlier in the session, with the Italian falling at turn five.
Stefano Manzi ended the opening day in 11th spot, with Aron Canet, Augusto Fernandez and Cameron Beaubier currently occupying the final Q2 qualifying spots. Xavi Vierge missed out on a top 14 position by only 0.005s.
Meanwhile, as things stand, Jake Dixon will have to go through Q1 tomorrow afternoon. The Petronas Sprinta Racing rider ended FP2 down in 18th spot. Bo Bendsneyder and Jorge Navarro, both top 10 finishers in the season opener, will also have to go through the opening qualifying session.
Tomorrow's Moto2 FP3 session is scheduled to take place at 12:20, followed by Q1 at 16:25 and Q2 at 16:50.
Moto3 Doha: Darryn Binder ends the opening day on top
First published: 2 April 2021 at 17:17 by Josh Close
Binder's quickest lap-time of 2:04.781 was enough to beat Sergio Garcia by just 0.040s, whilst Gabriel Rodrigo completed the top three. A handful of riders missed the chance to set a final flying lap, and therefore a chance of a Q2 spot, after heading out onto the circuit too late.
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There's a good chance that some penalties will be handed out to riders who were holding up others on the racing line, whilst trying to find a good spot to get a slipstream.
John McPhee was fourth on the second Petronas Sprinta Racing bike, ahead of Tatsuki Suzuki and race one winner Jaume Masia. Izan Guevara was seventh ahead of Jeremy Alcoba, whilst rookie Pedro Acosta went from 22nd to ninth on his final flying lap.
Romano Fenati completed the top 10, whilst Stefano Nepa, Ryusei Yamanaka, Kaito Toba and Niccolo Antonelli currently hold the final four Q2 qualifying spots. Technically, those automatic spots won't be confirmed until after FP3 tomorrow, however the hotter weather conditions at that time will cause slower lap-times.
Dennis Foggia, Filip Salac, Andrea Migno and Carlos Tatay are four of the riders that currently find themselves in Q1 heading into Saturday.
Moto3’s FP3 session is scheduled to take place at 11:25am tomorrow morning (April 3), and will be followed by Q1 at 15:30. Q2 will then take place at 15:55.