Yamaha rider Fabio Quartararo took a magnificent win in the Doha Grand Prix, taking the fight to the powerful Ducati’s in a race where records fell left right and center.
After two fantastic races in Moto2 and Moto3, it was time for the premier class to close out racing at Qatar. After two incredible races, the question on everyone’s lips was; could MotoGP follow it up?
Jorge Martin took an incredible pole on Saturday to start at the front in only his second ever race in the premier class. He was joined on the front row by the Championship top two, Johann Zarco and Maverick Viñales. Jack Miller was joined by Fabio Quartararo and Francesco Bagnaia on the second row. Ducati is known for their holeshot device so it would be interesting to see whether they can control the field in the early stages.
The lights went out, and the duel in the desert was underway. Martin made a start from heaven to lead by a second by the end of the first sector. Miller and Bagnaia had horror starts, dropping to eighth and eleventh respectively, while Aleix Espargaró put his Aprilia third at the end of lap 1. Espargaró tried to briefly make his presence known, going into second before being relegated back to fourth. Alex Rins was a lingering shadow just behind the Pramac Ducati’s.
The race calmed down for a while then, as riders conserved their tires for use later in the race. Rins and Zarco engaged in warfare for second place, which gave Martin a small margin in front. Rins bridged that gap very quickly and was on the tailpipe of Martin on lap 6. The power of the Ducati though, meant Rins was relegated to third down the main straight.
Rins took second again just before the halfway stage and set his sights on the leading Ducati of Martin just ahead. Power had the edge again though, and Rins was down to third once more. It was now four Ducati’s in the top five as Bagnaia and Miller were fourth and fifth.
Espargaró began to struggle. Rins had a mammoth moment and lost the front. Somehow he saved it but it was a warning that tires were wearing down. Lecuona and Marquez both crashed, but the world held its breath when Mir and Miller hit each other in a straight line, narrowly missing a monumental crash. Despite all of this, Martin still led.
Bagnaia then ran wide, putting Quartararo into the third position. He then took second from Zarco, and now it was his turn to try and take Martin, which he does only a few turns later. Viñales tried hard to get on the podium, couldn’t quite make it. Rins seemed to have used the best of his tires and was content with fifth as the penultimate lap began.
Now it was Pramac vs Pramac for second. Zarco tried to pass Martin, but time and again he couldn’t pass him, until turn 15. He dived up the inside, and took the position.
But the race was Fabio Quartararo’s. For the first time since 1954, two Frenchman were on the podium thanks to second-placed Johann Zarco, with Jorge Martin in third. Zarco was now the new championship leader with 40 points thanks to his double second place, but the ride of the day was rookie Martin, who went from pole to third in only his second Grand Prix.
The record for the closest top 15 was smashed too. After 22 laps of racing, only 8.9 seconds separated the top 15 at the flag. . The teams now recuperate for a weekend before the next battle of the giants at Portimaõ in two weeks’ time.
The full race score follows: