MotoGP Qatar: Maverick Vinales secures stunning victory at Losail

Maverick Vinales managed to pull away from the field
Maverick Vinales managed to pull away from the field

Maverick Vinales produced one of his finest performances in the premier class to win the 2021 MotoGP season opener in Qatar.

The Monster Energy Yamaha rider kept his cool and regrouped after being swamped by four Ducatis at the beginning of the race. Working with teammate Fabio Quartararo to catch the red bikes, Vinales began cutting his way through the order with some impressive, hard, but fair, overtaking manoeuvres.

Moto2: Sam Lowes dominates in Qatar

Vinales took the lead on lap 15 and quickly pulled away from the chasing pack, crossing the line with a 1.092s advantage to secure his ninth MotoGP victory.

Johann Zarco and Francesco Bagnaia completed the podium after using the substantial speed advantage of their Desmocedici machines to overtake Joan Mir on the run to the chequered flag.

Mir had done a brilliant job in overtaking both riders but went slightly wide going into the final corner. It was a small error but one that ultimately cost the reigning champion a spot on the podium.

Fabio Quartararo was fifth on the second factory Yamaha M1 after falling away from the podium fight. He, like Vinales, regrouped perfectly after a slow getaway but the Frenchman was unable to keep the fast pace going.

Alex Rins was struggling for grip and the front and rear in the closing stages, eventually crossing the line in sixth spot. He was followed by Aleix Espargaro on the new Aprilia RS-GP in seventh – bettering all of his 2020 results.

Pol Espargaro ended his Repsol Honda debut in eighth, whilst Jack Miller and rookie Enea Bastianini completed the top 10. Miller was involved in the podium fight early on but dropped off significantly in the middle of the race.

Elsewhere, Petronas Yamaha duo Valentino Rossi and Franco Morbidelli both had a tough time in Qatar. Rossi eventually finished the race in 12th spot, with Morbidelli, who started seventh on the grid, down in 18th position.

Miguel Oliveira was the leading KTM rider in 13th, with Brad Binder just behind in 14th spot. Jorge Martin ended his debut race in 15th after making an astonishing start to the race alongside his fellow Ducati riders. Martin launched from 14th on the grid to fourth heading into turn one.

Takaaki Nakagami crashed out at turn nine after losing the front on lap seven. His LCR Honda teammate Alex Marquez suffered the same fate at turn four on lap 14. Danilo Petrucci fell on the opening lap of the race.

Qatar GP - MotoGP Race Result

Moto2 Qatar: Sam Lowes dominates to win the season opener

First published: 28 March 2021 at 17:57 by Josh Close

Sam Lowes Qatar Win

Sam Lowes secured a comfortable victory in the opening Moto2 race of the 2021 season in Qatar.

The Brit briefly lost the lead at the start of the race to Marco Bezzecchi, however Lowes fought back at the start of the third lap and didn’t look back. Lowes was unchallenged for the remainder of the race with the only scare being a track limits warning on the penultimate lap.

Moto3: Jaume Masia wins for Red Bull KTM Ajo

Today’s victory is Lowes’ seventh in Moto2, and he becomes the first British rider to win a season opener since Barry Sheene at the 1979 Venezuela Grand Prix. 

Remy Gardner fought back from a difficult start to finish second on his maiden outing for the Red Bull KTM Ajo team. Behind him, there was a fantastic battle between Fabio Di Giannantonio and Marco Bezzecchi for the final podium spot. Di Giannantonio pipped Bezzecchi to the line by 0.013s. 

Raul Fernandez continued to impress on his Moto2 debut in fourth spot. Fernandez was third up until the final few laps when he began to suffer for grip. Joe Roberts was fifth on his Italtrans Racing debut. 

Jake Dixon battled valiantly to seventh place. Dixon was battling for the podium in the early stages but eventually fell back from the leading group. Despite still feeling the effects of his broken wrist, Dixon set his personal best lap-time on lap 16.

Marcel Schrotter, Bo Bendsneyder and Jorge Navarro completed the top 10, with five-time MotoAmerica champion Cameron Beaubier narrowly missing out on his debut in 11th. Fellow Moto2 rookie Celestino Vietti was 12th on his Sky Racing Team VR46 machine. 

Lorenzo Baldassarri crashed out of the race at turn four on the seventh lap, whilst Xavi Vierge’s race came to an end at turn 10 on lap 15 after clashing with Aron Canet. Hector Garzo also crashed out of contention.

Moto3 Qatar: Jaume Masia beats teammate Pedro Acosta to victory

First published: 28 March 2021 at 15:58 by Josh Close

Jaume Masia Qatar Win

Jaume Masia overcame the challenge from rookie teammate Pedro Acosta to win the opening Moto3 race of the 2021 season in Qatar.

Masia managed to open a gap on the final couple of laps, but Acosta was closing in on his experienced teammate heading into the final corner. Despite searching for that all important slipstream, Acosta was unable to beat Masia to the line.

MotoGP: Francesco Bagnaia smashes the circuit record to take pole

It’s Masia’s fourth victory in the lightweight class and a fantastic way to start his time with the Red Bull KTM Ajo team. Acosta, who also led the race on several occasions, has put the paddock on high alert following a stellar performance on his Grand Prix debut. 

Darryn Binder, who started from pole, ended his first race for Petronas Sprinta Racing on the final step of the podium. Binder was in the wars throughout the race, with his brake guard being pushed up out of place in the opening laps. 

Sergio Garcia was fourth ahead of Gabriel Rodrigo and Niccolò Antonelli. The latter briefly led the race with three laps remaining. Izan Guevara made it two rookies inside the top seven on his GASGAS Gaviota Aspar machine. Guevara and Acosta appear to have bright futures in the GP paddock.

Tatsuki Suzuki, Kaito Toba ( and Jason Dupasquier completed the top 10. Suzuki, who is still recovering from Covid-19, started the race 28th and last. 

Ayumu Sasaki crashed out of third spot at turn two on the final lap after battling his way through the pack from 15th on the grid. 

Romano Fenati was given a double long lap penalty for jumping the start and eventually ended the race in 12th.

John McPhee’s race came to a dramatic end on the third lap when he, Andrea Migno and Jeremy Alcoba were all taken out by rookie Xavier Artigas at turn six. The incident will be reviewed by race direction this evening. 

Dennis Foggia fell at turn three on the opening lap after being hit by Carlos Tatay, whilst Deniz Oncu also hit the deck on the first lap of the race at turn six. Tatay was given a long lap penalty as a result of the incident with Foggia, eventually finishing 11th. Riccardo Rossi crashed on the second lap at turn 10.

Qatar GP - Moto3 Race Result

MotoGP Qatar: Francesco Bagnaia sets new circuit lap record to take maiden pole

First published: 27 March 2021 by Josh Close

Pecco Bagnaia Qatar Pole

Francesco Bagnaia smashed the all-time circuit record at the Losail International Circuit to take his maiden MotoGP pole position. 

The factory Ducati posted a fastest lap-time of 1:52.772 – the first time that a MotoGP bike had dipped below the 1:53s. It was a record-breaking session, with the top eight riders all under the previous circuit record of 1:53.380 – set by Marc Marquez in 2019. 

Moto2: Sam Lowes cruised to pole position in Qatar

Fabio Quartararo and Maverick Vinales join Bagnaia on the front-row after a fantastic session for the Monster Energy Yamaha duo. Both riders have already acknowledged the importance of a front-row start tomorrow evening, given the sever speed disadvantage that the M1 has compared to the Ducati. 

Valentino Rossi will start his first race with Petronas Yamaha in fourth and will be be joined on row two by Jack Miller and Johann Zarco. The latter broke the all-time MotoGP speed record, reaching a staggering 225.2mph down the start/finish straight. 

Franco Morbidelli ensured that all four Yamaha riders were inside the top seven, ahead of Aleix Espargaro and Alex Rins. 2020 champion Joan Mir completed the top 10, with Takaaki Nakagami and Pol Espargaro ending the session in 11th and 12th respectively. 

Enea Bastianini lost out on a spot in Q2 to reigning champion Mir by just 0.005s. The Italian had previously led the session and was set to go even faster, only to lose time in the final sector. 

Fellow rookie Jorge Martin was also on course to improve on his final lap until he crashed at turn 12. The Pramac Racing Ducati rider will line-up 14th on the grid for his debut MotoGP race. 

Miguel Oliveira was the fastest KTM rider in 15th spot, ahead of Alex Marquez and Stefan Bradl. Luca Marini will start his first premier class race from 18th. KTM’s Brad Binder (19th), Danilo Petrucci (20th) and Iker Lecuona (21st) make up the back of the grid alongside Lorenzo Savadori in 22nd.

Tomorrow’s MotoGP race is scheduled to begin at 18:00 (UK Time).

MotoGP Qatar Qualifying

Moto2 Qatar: Sam Lowes storms to pole position at Losail

First published: 27 March 2021 at 14:38 by Josh Close

Sam Lowes Qatar Moto2 Pole

Sam Lowes cruised to pole position for the opening Moto2 race of the 2021 season in Qatar. 

The Elf Marc VDS rider has had great pace all weekend and was the favourite to take pole. The Brit did just that with a 1:58.726 and was untouchable throughout the Q2 session. It’s Lowes’ 12th pole position in Moto2. 

Moto3: Darryn Binder breaks Qatar lap record to take pole

Class rookie Raul Fernandez continued his seriously impressive debut weekend by putting his Red Bull KTM Ajo bike second on the grid. Equally as impressive was Bo Bendsneyder in third spot for the Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team. It’s the first time that the Dutch rider has qualified on the front row in Moto2.

Marco Bezzecchi qualified fourth ahead of Joe Roberts and Remy Gardner on row two. Gardner had some bad luck in Q2; his first quick lap saw Gardner go third, but it was quickly ruled out for exceeding track limits. Gardner was then forced to abort his final flying lap due to yellow flags being waved for Xavi Vierge’s crash at turn 10. 

Jake Dixon will start tomorrow’s race from seventh on the grid. The Brit was fortunate not to fall off his bike when he was hit by Petronas Sprint Racing teammate, Vierge. Dixon was cruising around turn three and Vierge was unable to react quickly enough to avoid him. Fortunately, the pair were able to stay on their respective machines. 

Fabio Di Giannantonio was eighth, whilst Jorge Navarro and Celestino Vietti completed the top 10.*

*UPDATE: Jake Dixon has been handed a three-place grid penalty and will now start the race from 10th

In Q1, Marcos Ramirez suffered a huge crash at turn 14 and was seen holding his right wrist afterwards. Meanwhile, Simone Corsi also hit the deck at speed and falling at turn 16. Corsi was also in some discomfort and was holding his right hand. 

Moto2 rookie Ai Ogura narrowly missed out on a spot in Q2 and will start his maiden intermediate class race from 19th on the grid. 

Five-time MotoAmerica Superbike champion Cameron Beaubier will start his first Moto2 race from 22nd on the grid. Reigning Moto3 champion Albert Arenas was just behind the American in 23rd. 

Lorenzo Baldassari’s disappointing run of form appears to have been carried over into 2021. The Italian ended the day in 26th position overall. Baldassari won the Qatar GP in 2019 and was second in 2018 and 2020. 

The Moto2 Qatar GP is due to begin at 16:20 (UK Time).

Moto2 Qatar Qualifying

Moto3 Qatar: Darryn Binder smashes circuit record to take pole position

First published: 27 March at 15:31 by Josh Close

Darryn Binder Pole Qatar

Darryn Binder broke the all-time circuit record twice in Qatar to take pole position on his Petronas Sprinta Racing debut. 

The South African, who had already made it through Q1 with some ease, first broke the lap record (previously 2:04.561) with a 2:04.354. Binder would go even faster with his final lap of the session, posting a 2:04.075 to knock rookie Izan Guevara off top spot. 

MotoGP – Jack Miller ends Friday fastest overall 

Guevara, who won the Moto3 Junior World Championship at the first attempt in 2020, bounced back from a difficult opening day to further showcase his potential in second spot. Big things are expected from the young Spaniard. 

John McPhee, after making it across the line to begin his final lap with around three seconds remaining, completes the front row on the second Petronas Sprinta Racing machine. 

Jeremy Alcoba ended up in fourth spot ahead of Jaume Masia, whilst Kaito Toba continued to impress in sixth spot. Toba lines-up for the CIP Green Power team this season and was fastest overall heading into qualifying

Gabriel Rodrigo and Sergio Garcia were seventh and eighth respectively, with Riccardo Rossi and Niccolò Antonelli completing the top 10. Reigning Red Bull Rookies champion Pedro Acosta will start his maiden Grand Prix from 11th on the grid. 

Romano Fenati failed to set a lap-time in Q2 and will therefore start the season opener down in 18th position. 

Meanwhile, Deniz Öncü was pushed out of a Q2 spot by Rossi in the dying seconds of Q1 and will start tomorrow’s race from 19th on the grid. Several riders misjudged their final stints in Q1, with nine riders failing to make it to the line before the chequered flag was waved. 

Other notable names who missed out on a place in Q2 include Ryusei Yamanaka (22nd), Filip Salac (24th) and Stefano Nepa in 26th. Tatsuki Suzuki failed to set a lap-time after his lap was cancelled after he exceeded track limits. 

Tomorrow’s Moto3 race is scheduled to begin at 15:00 (UK Time).

Moto3 Qatar Qualifying

MotoGP Qatar: Jack Miller leads a Ducati one-two at Losail on day one

First published: 26 March 2021 by Josh Close

Jack Miller Qatar GP Friday

Jack Miller led a factory Ducati one-two on the opening day of MotoGP action at the Losail International Circuit. 

Miller’s fastest lap-time of 1:53.387 was only 0.007s off the circuit lap record set by Marc Marquez in 2019. Miller did suffer a crash at turn four in FP1, a corner which also caught Zarco out moments prior to the Aussie’s incident. 

Moto2: Sam Lowes takes control ahead of Marco Bezzecchi

Francesco Bagnaia finished second and was only 0.035s slower than his teammate, whilst Fabio Quartararo was able stop Zarco from making it a Ducati lockout inside the top three. The Monster Energy Yamaha rider was quick in the middle sectors but ultimately lost ground down the long start/finish straight due to the Yamaha’s top speed deficit to the Ducati. 

Zarco ended up fourth after bouncing back from a crash only a few minutes into the FP1 session earlier on in the day. Alex Rins was fifth for Suzuki ahead of Maverick Vinales on the second factory Yamaha M1. Throughout the day Vinales was once again, like he did at the official tests, concentrating on his practice starts whilst exiting pit-lane. 

Franco Morbidelli was seventh ahead of Aleix Espargaro, who was the first rider to drop into the 1:53s today. His Aprilia appears to have significantly improved on last year’s bike, with added downforce from the front wing significantly benefiting the Spaniard.

Valentino Rossi and Pol Espargaro completed the top 10. The latter had two crashes on his RC213V today, one at turn six in FP1 and then at turn 15 in the closing seconds of FP2. Despite this, Espargaro was still smiling as he was the fastest Honda rider, and he was able to find the limit of the bike – something he was hoping to do sooner, rather than later. 

Reigning champion Joan Mir may have to go through Q1 tomorrow afternoon after only managing 11th today. Alex Marquez was 12th overall and confirmed to MCN afterwards that his injured foot wasn’t giving him too many problems. 

Jorge Martin was the fastest rookie in 13th, whilst Enea Bastianini and Luca Marini ended the day 15th and 17th respectively. 

As they did at the official tests, KTM’s riders continued to struggle around the Losail circuit. Brad Binder was the highest-placed KTM rider in 16th, whilst Miguel Oliveira was down in 19th. Tech3 KTM duo Danilo Petrucci and Iker Lecouna were 20th and 21st today.

FP3 is due to begin at 12:15 tomorrow afternoon (March 26), followed by FP4 at 16:20. Q1 will then take place at 17:00, with Q2 scheduled for 17:25.

Qatar GP - Combined MotoGP Friday

Moto2 Qatar: Sam Lowes continues impressive form on the opening day

First published: 26 March at 17:04 by Josh Close

Sam Lowes Qatar Friday

Sam Lowes continued where he left off at the three-day Qatar Test by posting the fastest lap-time overall in the Moto2 class.

The Brit was the only rider to drop into the 1:58s at the Losail International Circuit on the opening day. Lowes’ fastest lap-time of 1:58.959 was 0.104s quicker than Sky Racing Team VR46’s Marco Bezzecchi. The duo are the favourites to fight for this year’s title. 

Moto3: Kaito Toba steals top spot away from Jaume Masia

Joe Roberts completed the top three ahead of Xavi Vierge and Remy Gardner. Both Roberts and Gardner are expected to challenge for races wins this year following their moves to Italtrans Racing and Red Bull KTM Ajo respectively. 

Bo Bendsneyder was sixth ahead of Nicolò Bulega and rookie Raul Fernandez. The new Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto2 recruit has been the fastest rookie throughout pre-season testing and now the opening two free practice sessions. 

Jake Dixon was ninth overall for Petronas Sprinta Racing. The former Bennetts British Superbike rider is still recovering from the broken wrist he suffered towards the end of last season but appears to still have the pace to be competitive. Jorge Navarro completed the top 10. 

Marcel Schrotter and rookie Tony Arbolino were 11th and 12th respectively, with Thomas Luthi and Aron Canet currently occupying the final two automatic Q2 qualification spots. 

The Moto2 riders will return to action tomorrow morning (March 27) for FP3 at 11:20am (UK), followed by Q1 at 15:25 and Q2 at 15:50.

Qatar GP - Combined Moto2 Friday

Moto3 Qatar: Kaito Toba pips Jaume Masia to top day one

First published: 26 March at 16:24 by Josh Close

Kaito Toba Qatar Friday

Kaito Toba topped the opening day of the 2021 Moto3 season in Qatar ahead of Jaume Masia and Gabriel Rodrigo.

The Japanese rider, who won at the Losail International Circuit in 2019, went to the top of the timesheets with only a couple of minutes remaining. Toba’s time of 2:04.839 was 0.042s faster than Masia’s time.

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Rodrigo was a further 0.026s behind on his Indonesian Gresini Racing machine, whilst Sergio Garcia was fourth for the GasGas Gaviota Aspar team. Swiss rider Jason Dupasquier completed the top five.

Niccolò Antonelli was sixth ahead of Jeremy Alcoba, whilst Britain’s John McPhee was eighth overall for Petronas Sprinta Racing. McPhee had finished fifth earlier on in the afternoon in FP1. Andrea Migno and Maximilian Kofler completed the top 10.

Carlos Tatay and Dennis Foggia were 11th and 12th respectively, whilst Ayumi Sasaki and Pedro Acosta currently sit in the final two automatic Q2 spots. Acosta, reigning Red Bull Rookies champion, was inside the top three earlier in the session after some impressive teamwork with Red Bull Ajo KTM teammate Masia. Acosta topped FP1 earlier in the day.

Fellow rookie, and 2020 Moto3 Junior World Champion, Izan Guevara didn’t have such a positive day. Guevara was 20th and also crashed in the closing seconds of the session at turn four.

FP3 is scheduled to begin at 10:25 (UK) tomorrow morning (March 27) and will be followed by Q1 at 14:30 and Q2 at 14:55.

Qatar GP - Combined Moto3 Friday