Niccolo Antonelli has snatched the opening race of the 2016 Moto3 season by a whisker (or more precisely, by 0.007) from Brad Binder, after out-dragging the Red Bull KTM rider in a race to the line at Qatar’s Losail circuit.
It was Binder who looked to have come out on top of the six-rider scrap that saw place changes right down to the last corner, with the South African leading a freight train of Antonelli, Franco Bagnaia, Romano Fenati, Enea Bastianni and rookie Nicolo Bulega.
But it was Antonelli who was able to utilise the drafting from Binder’s KTM to maximum effect on the Ongetta-Rivacold Honda to take the flag by only a fraction of a second.
“At the last lap, I know that sometimes I can win in the slipstream and sometimes I can’t. I knew I could be on the podium, but I followed in the slipstream and it was perfect!”
Bagnaia rounded out the podium on the Aspar Mahindra machine to make it three manufacturers on the podium, while Fenati, Bastianni and Bulega completed the top six.
Scotsman John McPhee was 27th, after struggling with a series of unfortunate events all weekend long to deny him track time and any level of comfort on the Saxoprint Peugeot machine.