Alexis Masbou converted pole position into victory in a thrilling Moto2 season opener at Losail, outdragging Enea Bastianini on the run to the finish line. Masbou kept his head in a typically frenetic fight amongst the leaders to pip Bastianini by 0.027s with Danny Kent starting his championship campaign with a podium in third.
The leading group comprised as many as seventeen riders at one stage with the Honda-powered motorcycles proving strongest on the long pit straight. The pack didn’t involve pre-race favourite Miguel Oliveira after the Portuguese rider tumbled at turn one. Bastianini needed every bit of power his machine had to offer to climb up the order having qualified down in 21st but the Italian made rapid progress, hitting the front with five laps to go.
Four from the finish, Francesco Bagnaia slipstreamed his way into the lead on the Aspar Mahindra but debutant Fabio Quartararo was emerging as a serious threat, the Frenchman showing maturity beyond his years to navigate his way through the chaos. Having started lap sixteen in fourth, the 15 year old sneaked into second at turn six before diving past Efren Vazquez’s Honda for the lead at turn twelve.
Quartararo looked to have played his tactics to perfection but the rookie was handed a harsh lesion at the start of the last lap. The Hondas of Vazquez and Bastianini breezed past on the run towards turn one while Bagnaia also mugged the Estrella Galicia rider on the outside of the right-hander. In his attempts to fight back, Quartararo forced himself and the Mahindra rider wide at turn five, eliminating himself from the battle for victory.
Having started the last lap in seventh, Masbou sneaked through to third amid the mayhem and with Bastianini snatching the lead from Vazquez at turn twelve, the experienced Saxoprint rider knew he had to act quickly. Alexis acted decisively to grab second at turn fourteen and as they exited the last bend, he locked his Honda into the slipstream of Bastianini’s machine and stormed through to victory.
Vazquez lost further ground with Kent pipping him to the final podium place while John McPhee and Isaac Vinales pushed Quartararo down to seventh. Early leader Niccolo Antonelli fell to eighth with Bagnaia tumbling to ninth ahead of the leading Red Bull Ajo KTM of Brad Binder.
Moto3 Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar: Race Result (18 Laps)
|1||10. Alexis Masbou||Honda||Saxoprint-RTG||38:25.424|
|2||33. Enea Bastianini||Honda||Junior Team Gresini Moto3||+0.027|
|3||52. Danny Kent||Honda||Leopard Racing||+0.142|
|4||7. Efren Vazquez||Honda||Leopard Racing||+0.288|
|5||17. John McPhee||Honda||Saxoprint-RTG||+0.693|
|6||32. Isaac Vinales||Husqvarna||Husqvarna Factory Laglisse||+0.765|
|7||20. Fabio Quartararo||Honda||Estrella Galicia 0,0||+0.772|
|8||23. Niccolo Antonelli||Honda||Ongetta-Rivacold||+0.773|
|9||21. Francesco Bagnaia||Mahindra||Mapfre Mahindra Team||+0.909|
|10||41. Brad Binder||KTM||Red Bull KTM Ajo||+1.317|
|11||55. Andrea Locatelli||Honda||Junior Team Gresini Moto3||+1.546|
|12||9. Jorge Navarro||Honda||Estrella Galicia 0,0||+1.608|
|13||98. Karel Hanika||KTM||Red Bull KTM Ajo||+1.869|
|14||65. Philipp Oettl||KTM||Schedl GP Racing||+2.504|
|15||88. Jorge Martin||Mahindra||Mapfre Mahindra Team||+5.119|
|16||44. Miguel Oliveira||KTM||Red Bull KTM Ajo||+6.814|
|17||84. Jakub Kornfeil||KTM||Drive M7 SIC Racing Team||+8.760|
|18||58. Juanfran Guevara||Mahindra||Mapfre Mahindra Team||+9.259|
|19||40. Darryn Binder||Mahindra||Outox Reset Drink Team||+11.385|
|20||95. Jules Danilo||Honda||Ongetta-Rivacold||+27.616|
|21||12. Matteo Ferrari||Mahindra||San Carlo Team Italia||+29.071|
|22||6. Maria Herrera||Husqvarna||Husqvarna Factory Laglisse||+29.266|
|23||24. Tatsuki Suzuki||Mahindra||CIP||+29.436|
|24||16. Andrea Migno||KTM||Sky Racing Team VR46||+29.485|
|25||19. Alessandro Tonucci||Mahindra||Outox Reset Drink Team||+29.770|
|26||53. Marco Bezzecchi||Mahindra||San Carlo Team Italia||+46.295|
|27||91. Gabriel Rodrigo||KTM||RBA Racing Team||+46.406|
|28||63. Zulfahmi Khairuddin||KTM||Drive M7 SIC Racing Team||+1:04.409|
|29||61. Loris Cresson||KTM||RBA Racing Team||+1:40.606|
|NC||5. Romano Fenati||KTM||Sky Racing Team VR46||+1 Lap|
|NC||11. Livio Loi||Honda||RW Racing GP||+8 Laps|
|NC||76. Hiroki Ono||Honda||Leopard Racing||+10 Laps|
|NC||2. Remy Gardner||Mahindra||CIP||+10 Laps|
|NC||31. Niklas Ajo||KTM||RBA Racing Team||+17 Laps|