The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP rider thundered to victory as Pramac Racing take second and third.
As the Doha double-header came to a close, the MotoGP crew once again gave us quite the show. With rookie Jorge Martin on Pole, the Ducatis looked to fight for victory once again.
The Spaniard on Pole took the holeshot into Turn 1, making an early gap back to teammate Johann Zarco in second. While Aleix Espargaro was on the hunt in third, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Miguel Oliveira had the best start off the line, launching into 4th at Turn 1 from his P12 grid position.
The Yamaha duo of Maverick Viñales and Fabio Quartararo had their work cut out for them, both being swallowed up off the line by the men in red, and ending up in 8th and 9th on the opening lap.
Martin continued to lead as the pack behind fought constantly amongst one another, as the Suzuki ECSTAR men Alex Rins and Joan Mir worked their way up the board. Rins hunted down the podium placers and soon entered a fight for second with Zarco – wherever Rins would take him, the Frenchman would simply power back through on the straight.
Throughout the chaos of the opening laps, front runner Martin kept his cool. With the results from the weekend leading up to Sunday’s race, I think it’s safe to assume that the 23-year-old has found his rhythm aboard the Pramac machine. Martin still lead comfortably as we reached the halfway point in the race.
Halfway through, and still as intense as the start. The men in red were up against the Suzuki duo as Ducati Lenovo Team’s Francesco Bagnaia and Jack Miller moved up into the fray, as a mediocre start from both had them battling at the bottom end of the Top 10 prior. The Yamahas lay in wait in 8th and 9th behind Aleix Espargaro, looking to either pick rivals off one by one, or waiting for the inevitable clashes up ahead.
Despite Rins’ best efforts with 10 laps to go, the Spaniard conceded his podium position to the Desmos, as Bagnaia took third place after a classic overtake off of the start/finish straight into Turn 1. While Rins amicably fell into place behind Pecco, teammate Mir wasn’t going down without a fight. On the same lap, the defending champ looked to the inside of Miller in 5th, making contact in an aggressive manoeuvre and forcing the Aussie to sit up. However, we all know that Jack Miller isn’t one to step down from a battle, and so the pair clashed once again while coming out of the final corner, allowing Miller to stride ahead of Mir, who was left kicking up dust. Despite the attack, the pair both suffered and were forced to fight their way back up the order, as the incident left Miller in 6th and Mir down in 9th.
With all of the drama further back catching our attention, Quartararo managed to quietly move up the board, taking 4th from Rins with 8 laps to go. With the race dwindling down to the last few laps, the Yamaha man remained a threat to anyone ahead. With 7 laps remaining, Quartararo made his first move on Bagnaia, and after a few attempts to take third position, the Italian ran in hot coming off of the start/finish straight, ending the Ducati rider’s podium contention, as Quartararo began the hunt for fellow Frenchman Zarco.
With just 5 laps to go, Quartararo was able to bridge the gap to second place and swiftly take it from under Zarco. However, the man in blue wouldn’t let anyone relax for a second before conquering the man in first as well, taking the lead from Martin for the first time in the race. It took another lap before the Frenchman could cement his lead, as Martin fought back on the straight, but once he did, Quartararo soon took off from the Pramac pair.
Viñales made his way up to 4th place with 3 laps remaining, and made numerous attempts to take Zarco for 3rd, but the sheer power of the Ducati made the Frenchman untouchable. Leaving the Yamaha rider to lock in a battle with Rins.
On the final lap, all eyes were on the Pramac pair, as Zarco was mere inches from Martin’s rear wheel. The Frenchman held his own and lined himself up to make the perfect manoeuvre on his teammate in the final sector, and despite Martin staying hot on his heels, there was nothing to stop Zarco on his run to the line, making the Doha podium a French 1-2.
Quartararo and Zarco’s joint performances gave France their first double premier class podium since 1954, while the race bore witness to the closest ever Top 15 finish. With Martin making it his first ever MotoGP podium as well, all in all the podium is looking pretty good. Johann Zarco also takes the championship lead, sitting 4 points ahead of both Yamaha men Fabio Quartararo and Maverick Viñales, who are joint second with 36 points.
Fellow rookie Enea Bastianini is once again a rider of praise, as the Esponsorama Racing rider snuck up the board to take yet another good result, just missing out on the Top 10 with an 11th place.
Aleix Espargaro rounded out the Top 10. Despite the result being disappointing to the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini man, the Spaniard continues to be a dark horse in the pack. With a few more races under his belt, we could really start to see the elder Espargaro’s influence on the track.
Petronas Yamaha SRT are still yet to find a solution to their problems, as both riders had a lacklustre race overall. Franco Morbidelli finished in 12th place, as Valentino Rossi finished outside of the points in 16th. The Italians will be glad to finally see the back of Qatar for another year.
Miguel Oliveira unfortunately fell down the order after his magnificent start to the race, grabbing the final point in 15th place. Teammate Brad Binder lead the KTMs with his 8th place result, while Pol Espargaro lead the Hondas in 13th.
We leave Qatar for another year, and head to Portugal in 2 weeks-time for the Grande Prémio 888 de Portugal at Portimao.
Feature Image: MotoGP.com