Joan Mir held his nerve in a final lap battle with John McPhee to win the opening round of the 2017 Moto3 season in Qatar. The Spaniard, who claimed last year’s Rookie-of-the-Year title, gave reason to suggest that the ultimate prize could be possible this season with a superbly-judged victory.
Although tonight’s race marked the start of a new season, Moto3 produced its usual excitement with a thirteen-rider group disputing the lead for much of proceedings. Front-row starter Philipp Oettl was among those staking a claim for victory but the German saw his hopes evaporate on lap thirteen after outbraking himself at turn six, wiping Juanfran Guevara out in the process.
Italian pair Romano Fenati and Fabio Di Giannantonio also had spells in the lead with slipstreaming playing a key role but the one constant at the front was Mir whose speed onto the start/finish straight would regularly see him lead across the finish line.
With a lap to go, McPhee made his bid for victory on the British Talent Team Honda, diving past Mir’s Leopard machine into turn one, but the Spaniard responded quickly and decisively, outbraking the Scotsman into turn four before controlling the remainder of the final lap.
McPhee took second to give the British Talent Team a podium finish to mark their Grand Prix debut while Jorge Martin translated pole position into third, just two tenths off the victory. Aron Canet produced one of the best showings of his Moto3 career in fourth while Fenati could only manage fifth on his return to the series.
Andrea Migno was the first KTM rider home in sixth, just ahead of the sole Red Bull Ajo rider Niccolo Antonelli, team-mate Bo Bendsneyder having crashed out of the leading group. Di Giannantonio fell to eighth, just ahead of Marcos Ramirez while Adam Norrodin claimed a career-best tenth, edging out rookie team-mate Ayumu Sasaki.
Moto3 Grand Prix of Qatar: Race Result (18 Laps)
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