Francesco Bagnaia (SKY Racing Team VR46) took a sensational maiden victory in the Grand Prix of Qatar, beating his compatriot Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP40) to the line as the victory was decided on the final lap under the floodlights. The 2017 rookie of the year secured his team’s debut victory in the class and began his season in the best possible way, as Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) rounded out the podium despite some brake issues.
Getting a strong start off the line as the lights went out, Bagnaia took the lead into the first corner as pole position man Marquez had a slight moment with Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) in the run up to the opening corner. But it was the Italians making a break in the opening lap, with Bagnaia and Baldassarri leading the way ahead of Marquez, who quickly recovered from the wobble.
It looked like Bagnaia would be able to escape but the two bikes behind then began to close – before Marquez fell into problems as he was close to overtaking the Pons HP40 bike for second, running off track through turn one as his rear brake disc glowed red hot under the night sky. Although then out of the fight for the win, the 2014 lightweight class Champion held onto the final podium spot, holding off Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team), who took fourth.
The duel for the win began to really light up on the final laps, and the last lap set up a classic showdown. Baldassarri made his move into the penultimate corner and briefly took the lead, but Bagnaia stole it straight back – and was able to hold his advantage on the long run to the line.
Completing the top five behind the podium trio and Pasini, Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) just beat teammate Brad Binder after a more difficult opening race for KTM, with Marcel Schrotter beating his teammate Xavi Vierge (Dynavolt Intact GP) by just 0.097 over the line as the Dynavolt Intact GP machines came home seventh and eighth. Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) won his battle for ninth, ahead of Jorge Navarro (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) who rounded out the top ten.
Next up was best rookie Joan Mir (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), who took eleventh for a solid debut as he comes back from an injury late in preseason.
Now the paddock moves west to the Americas, with Argentina first on the agenda.
Moto2™ Race Results
1 – Francesco Bagnaia (ITA) KALEX + 40’19.802
2 – Lorenzo Baldassarri (ITA) KALEX +0.112
3 – Álex Márquez (SPA) KALEX +5.625