Vinales wins the season-opening Qatar MotoGP for Yamaha after overturning an early Ducati 1-2-3-4.
Maverick Vinales defeated the Ducati armada to claim victory in the MotoGP Qatar Grand Prix season opener ahead of Johann Zarco by just over a second.
Vinales had to do it the hard way after making a sluggish getaway and dropping to ninth on the opening lap, though it seemed the ghosts of his early race struggles of seasons gone by were banished as he quickly cut his way through the pack as Ducati controlled proceedings out in front as they locked out the top four positions.
QATAR MOTOGP, LOSAIL CIRCUIT – RACE RESULTS
|1||Maverick Viñales||SPA||Monster Yamaha (YZR-M1)|
|2||Johann Zarco||FRA||Pramac Ducati (GP21)|
|3||Francesco Bagnaia||ITA||Ducati Team (GP21)|
|4||Joan Mir||SPA||Suzuki Ecstar (GSX-RR)|
|5||Fabio Quartararo||FRA||Monster Yamaha (YZR-M1)|
|6||Alex Rins||SPA||Suzuki Ecstar (GSX-RR)|
|7||Aleix Espargaro||ITA||Aprilia Gresini (RS-GP)|
|8||Pol Espargaro||SPA||Repsol Honda (RC213V)|
|9||Jack Miller||AUS||Ducati Team (GP21)|
|10||Enea Bastianini||ITA||Avintia Ducati (GP19)|
|11||Stefan Bradl||GER||Repsol Honda (RC213V)|
|12||Valentino Rossi||ITA||Petronas Yamaha (YZR-M1)|
|13||Miguel Oliveira||POR||Red Bull KTM (RC16)|
|14||Brad Binder||RSA||Red Bull KTM (RC16)|
|15||Jorge Martin||SPA||Pramac Ducati (GP21)|
|16||Luca Marini||ITA||VR46 Avintia Ducati (GP19)|
|17||Iker Lecuona||SPA||KTM Tech3 (RC16)|
|18||Franco Morbidelli||ITA||Petronas Yamaha (YZR-M1)|
|19||Lorenzo Savadori||ITA||Aprilia Gresini (RS-GP)|
|Alex Marquez||SPA||LCR Honda (RC213V)|
|Takaaki Nakagami||JPN||LCR Honda (RC213V)|
|Danilo Petrucci||ITA||KTM Tech3 (RC16)|
The second factory Yamaha of Fabio Quartararo led the M1 charge in the opening stages of the contest, first dispatching Aleix Espargaro’s Aprilia for fifth before turning his attention to the rapid-starting rookie of Jorge Martin, who rocketed from 14th to fourth off the start.
The Frenchman relieved Martin of the position a few laps into the contest before taking third from Miller just a couple tours later, Vinales remaining within the wheel-tracks of his team-mate all the while.
Vinales finally made his move on Quartararo as the race reached mid-distance, the eight-time premier class victor quickly closing onto the pair of leading Desmosedici’s led by pole-man Francesco Bagnaia.
The Ducati’s looked to be struggling to keep their tyres alive in the closing stages as Vinales passed Zarco a lap later before running down Bagnaia for the lead a few circulations after.
The now-leading Yamaha swiftly built enough of an advantage to not be pressured along the front straight by the flying Ducati’s, ultimately edging away across the remainder of the contest to take the chequered flag 1.092s ahead of the battle for the runners-up position.
Reigning MotoGP world champion Joan Mir had recovered from a slow start to be in with a shout of the rostrum in the closing laps, having got himself in range of Bagnaia and second-placed Zarco.
Mir moved ahead of Bagnaia on the penultimate tour before running down Zarco, passing the Pramac racer with just a couple turns remaining on the final lap.
The Suzuki man found himself helpless though as he exited the final corner on the run to the line for the final time, Zarco and Bagnaia shooting past to claim the final two spots on the podium and leaving Mir a disappointed fourth-the three covered by just over a tenth of a second.
Quartararo failed to enjoy the same level of pace as his team-mate in the closing laps and had to make do with fifth ahead of the second GSX-RR of Alex Rins, while Aleix enjoyed a solid run to seventh just 5.9 seconds from Vinales’ race winning time.
Brother Pol Espargaro displayed Honda’s strong late-race performance to fight through to eighth ahead of a fading Jack Miller, while Enea Bastianini collected the accolade for best rookie by completing the top ten.
Valentino Rossi failed to make use of his strong fourth position starting slot as he slumped to 12th by the end, though still ahead of Martin who fell to 15th after his electric start.
KTM’s poor weekend failed to improve on Sunday as Miguel Oliveira took the chequered flag as first of the RC16’s in 13th ahead of team-mate Brad Binder, while Franco Morbidelli seemingly suffered a problem of his own as he struggled to 18th ahead of only Lorenzo Savadori.
Danilo Petrucci suffered a bad start to life as a KTM pilot after crashing out at Turn 2 on the first lap, while LCR Honda pairing Takaaki Nakagami and Alex Marquez also crashed out early on.