Francesco Bagnaia backed up his status with many as the pre-season championship favourite by winning the Moto2 season opener in Qatar. The Italian, widely tipped to win the title this season, held off Lorenzo Baldassarri in a tense finale to claim his maiden victory in the intermediate class.
Having claimed a dominant pole position, Alex Marquez began the race as the man to beat but Bagnaia immediately wrestled control of the race, outdragging the Spaniard into turn one. As the Sky VR46 rider set a consistent pace out front, Marquez fought over second with Baldassarri, a battle he seemed to be winning until an overheating rear brake caused him to overshoot turn four, dropping him five seconds adrift.
Marquez’s issues looked to have cleared the path for Bagnaia’s first Moto2 win but a late burst from Baldassarri brought him right back into contention on the last lap. The Pons rider dived up the inside of his compatriot two corners from home but Francesco reacted superbly, ducking back underneath the no.7 to secure victory by a tenth of a second.
Despite his brake problems, Marquez held onto third ahead of the fast-closing Mattia Pasini while Red Bull KTM duo Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder finished fifth and sixth, the former paying the price for overshooting turn one at the start. Dynavolt team-mates Marcel Schrotter and Xavi Vierge were seventh and eighth respectively while Luca Marini and Jorge Navarro completed the top ten, just ahead of Moto3 champion and leading rookie Joan Mir.
Moto2 Grand Prix of Qatar: Race Result
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