Jonas Folger took a stunning first victory in the Moto2 class after all three front row starters hit problems in a dramatic season opener at Losail. The German triggered joyous scenes at AGR, inheriting the lead when Johann Zarco slowed with a broken gear linkage three laps from home, while fellow pre-race favourites Sam Lowes and Tito Rabat both crashed early on.
All looked to be going to plan for Lowes in the opening laps with the Briton converting pole position into the lead at turn one and although he was soon overtaking by the Kalex of Zarco, Sam looked comfortable in second spot. All of that changed on lap three though as the front end of the Speed Up washed out at turn sixteen, eliminating Sam on the spot.
In his absence, Rabat would have been expected to carry the challenge to Zarco but the defending champion had his own problems. Having made a solid start from the outside of the front row, Rabat skated wide at turn four, costing him five places, and that mistake would prove costly as the Marc VDS rider tagged Simone Corsi in his efforts to make progress, taking him and the Italian out of the Grand Prix.
Christmas had seemingly come early for Zarco who was presented with a four second lead over Folger and Xavier Simeon but with four laps remaining, a broken gear linkage left the Ajo Motorsport rider stuck in fourth. As Johann checked his Kalex for damage, he came perilously close to hitting the pitwall but even though he regained control, the long-time leader was powerless to keep Folger behind him. Unable to believe his luck, Folger eased to a maiden Moto2 victory for himself and the plucky AGR Team with Simeon giving Gresini their second podium finish of the day in second.
Alex Rins started the race cautiously but unleashed a sensational series of laps in the closing stages to chase down Sandro Cortese and the two Italtrans Kalex riders but Thomas Luthi barely held him off for the final podium position with Rins fourth ahead of Franco Morbidelli, Mika Kallio and Cortese.
Zarco’s pace fell away to such an extent that he limped over the line in eighth with Louis Rossi and Lorenzo Baldassarri completing the top ten, just ahead of Moto3 champion Alex Marquez.
Moto2 Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar: Race Result (20 Laps)
|1||94. Jonas Folger||Kalex||AGR Team||40:18.532|
|2||19. Xavier Simeon||Kalex||Federal Oil Gresini Moto2||+5.051|
|3||12. Thomas Luthi||Kalex||Derendinger Racing Interwetten||+12.123|
|4||40. Alex Rins||Kalex||Paginas Amarillas HP 40||+12.202|
|5||21. Franco Morbidelli||Kalex||Italtrans Racing Team||+14.385|
|6||36. Mika Kallio||Kalex||Italtrans Racing Team||+14.413|
|7||11. Sandro Cortese||Kalex||Dynavolt Intact GP||+14.471|
|8||5. Johann Zarco||Kalex||Ajo Motorsport||+18.541|
|9||96. Louis Rossi||Tech 3||Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2||+20.914|
|10||7. Lorenzo Baldassarri||Kalex||Forward Racing||+21.336|
|11||73. Alex Marquez||Kalex||Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS||+21.847|
|12||55. Hafizh Syahrin||Kalex||Petronas Raceline Malaysia||+23.226|
|13||60. Julian Simon||Speed Up||QMMF Racing Team||+25.573|
|14||30. Takaaki Nakagami||Kalex||IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia||+29.784|
|15||77. Dominique Aegerter||Kalex||Technomag Racing Interwetten||+30.267|
|16||23. Marcel Schrotter||Tech 3||Tech 3||+34.561|
|17||4. Randy Krummenacher||Kalex||JIR Moto2||+36.850|
|18||25. Azlan Shah||Kalex||IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia||+48.346|
|19||10. Thitipong Warokorn||Kalex||APH PTT The Pizza SAG||+48.772|
|20||70. Robin Mulhauser||Kalex||Technomag Racing Interwetten||+49.670|
|21||66. Florian Alt||Suter||Octo IodaRacing Team||+1:15.596|
|22||2. Jesko Raffin||Kalex||sports-millions-EMWE-SAG||+1:15.641|
|23||51. Zaqhwan Zaidi||Suter||JPM Malaysia||+1:21.693|
|NC||88. Ricard Cardus||Tech 3||Tech 3||+1 Lap|
|NC||95. Anthony West||Speed Up||QMMF Racing Team||+11 Laps|
|NC||3. Simone Corsi||Kalex||Forward Racing||+17 Laps|
|NC||1. Esteve Rabat||Kalex||Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS||+17 Laps|
|NC||39. Luis Salom||Kalex||Paginas Amarillas HP 40||+17 Laps|
|NC||49. Axel Pons||Kalex||AGR Team||+17 Laps|
|NC||22. Sam Lowes||Speed Up||Speed Up Racing||+18 Laps|