By Stefan Ficarra
The hype of the first MotoGP race is over after rookie Maverick Vinales took a remarkable victory at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.
With extreme weather conditions throughout the weekend and race day, a vibe of scepticism and uncertainty in the team garages was ensured. Despite this, teams worked non-stop to find a set-up to suit the tropical conditions Qatar upholds.
Over the weekend, Vinales stole the headlines after posting many quick laps to put him on top of all riders in the combined practice times, and when qualifying was suspended due to bad weather, those times had paid off.
The front row consisted of pole sitter Maverick Vinales, ex-Ducati rider Andrea Iannone, and the reigning World Champion Marc Marquez, with Vinales’ fellow teammate and nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi starting from the fourth row of the grid in tenth, and Ducati’s newest member Jorge Lorenzo starting 12th.
Pre-race nerves started settling in even more however, when the start of the race was suspended again due to, you guessed it, bad weather conditions. Along with the halted start, the race was also cut down to only 20 laps, leaving spectators visibly frustrated.
The race finally got underway with a brilliant launch off the line from Suzuki Ecstar’s Andrea Iannone, only overshadowed by former double-Moto2 World Champion Johann Zarco, jumping into the lead within the first six corners. This purple patch for Zarco had a downside however, with the Frenchmen biting the dust on his new Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine on only the seventh lap of the race. This then allowed Andrea Dovizioso, Maverick Vinales and Marc Marquez to come back into victory contention.
Slowly but surely, the race calmed down with the three initial leaders creating more gaps on each other. A mistake from Andrea Iannone at Turn 5 on the 15th lap was the only real event occurring to the lead group since Zarco’s mistake on lap 7. That was until ‘The Doctor’ (Valentino Rossi) wanted a piece of the action…
Lap by lap, Rossi crept up behind the rear wheel of Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez, and within a few laps, Rossi was now in the podium places.
And then there was the scrap for first: ‘DesmoDovi’, ‘The Rookie’, or ‘The Doctor’. Who would draw first blood in the championship? Who would win?
The last 8 laps saw overtakes every 6 corners or so, sheer determination, and the desire to win, as the trio traded positions like three gamblers at a poker game.
It was pretty much said that the Ducati would gobble up the Yamaha on the straight, but the Yamaha’s had the stability and braking power to attack the Ducati whilst cornering.
With 2 laps left, Vinales made the move on Dovizioso stick, the Ducati not able to pull back enough ground to attack on the straight.
At that moment, viewers and spectators across the world knew that the race was over, and Vinales was the clear-cut winner.
The podium read Maverick Vinales first, Andrea Dovizioso second and Valentino Rossi third. The classifications at the race conclusion are below.
- Maverick Vinales SPA (Movistar Yamaha Team)
- Andrea Dovizioso ITA (Ducati Team)
- Valentino Rossi ITA (Movistar Yamaha Team)
- Marc Marquez SPA (Repsol Honda Team)
- Dani Pedrosa SPA (Repsol Honda Team)
- Aleix Espargaro SPA (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini)
- Scott Redding GBR (OCTO Pramac Racing)
- Jack Miller AUS (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Team)
- Alex Rins SPA (Suzuki Ecstar Team)
- Jonas Folger GER (Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team)
- Jorge Lorenzo SPA (Ducati Team)
- Loris Baz FRA (Reale Avintia Racing)
- Hector Barbera SPA (Reale Avintia Racing)
- Karel Abraham CZE (Pull&Bear Aspar Team)
- Tito Rabat SPA (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Team)
- Pol Espargaro SPA (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)
- Bradley Smith GBR (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)
- Sam Lowes GBR (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini)
- Danilo Petrucci ITA (OTCO Pramac Racing)
- Andrea Iannone ITA (Suzuki Ecstar Team)
- Alvaro Bautista SPA (Pull&Bear Aspar Team)
- Johann Zarco FRA (Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team)
- Cal Crutchlow GBR (LCR Honda Team)
Stefan Ficarra is an aspiring sports journalist, who contacted MarkUp Media with the idea of publishing MotoGP news. If you have a strong interest in sports media, or wish to get in contact with us, follow MarkUp Media on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and get in touch.
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