Quartararo’s Qatari delight at the inaugural MotoGP Doha Grand Prix


Embed from Getty Images

Fabio Quartararo was victorious at the inaugural Doha Grand Prix with Pramac Racing’s Johann Zarco and MotoGP rookie Jorge Martin finishing second and third in a stunning display for the Welsh-based outfit.

Starting Grid

Embed from Getty Images

MotoGP rookie Jorge Martin took his maiden pole position ahead of his Pramac Ducati teammate Johann Zarco. The duo negotiated the wild and windy conditions well, which made qualifying a challenge for the whole grid.

Martin’s pole time was three-tenths slower than last week’s pole time set by Francesco Bagnaia, showing the effectiveness of a tailwind down the main pit straight.

Four-thousandths separated Zarco and Maverick Vinales. The Yamaha rider qualified third and was in the hunt for back-to-back races wins which would set him up well for a strong title charge.

On row two were Ducati teammates Jack Miller and podium sitter from Round One Francesco Bagnaia, as the duo sandwiched Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo who qualified fifth.

A surprise from Saturday evening’s qualifying is Valentino Rossi who had a disastrous session. The Italian, who impressed in last week’s qualifying by being fourth fastest, lined up in 21st – the only rider behind him was his compatriot Lorenzo Savadori.

As It Happened

Embed from Getty Images

Off the line, the Pramac Ducati bikes got a rocket start once again and were closely followed by Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro in third after he started seventh.

Portuguese rider Miguel Oliviera blasted off the line like a spaceship on its way to Mars as he found himself up to fifth at the end of the first lap after starting 12th.

In the early stages of the race as the pack filed into order, the Factory Ducati and Yamaha bikes battled it out. The Ducati power along the kilometre-long main straight combined with the agility of the Yamaha bikes throughout the fast, twisty parts through the middle of the lap provided a close and entertaining battle.

As the pack continued to battle on behind, Jorge Martin started to pull away – a gap that fluctuated between half a second to a second throughout the middle stages of the race.

At the halfway point, the top nine started to pull away. With increasing pressure on Martin from behind, the battle for the lead started to shape up nicely.

Johann Zarco utilised the turbo power of his Ducati along the main straight to blitz past Alex Rins’ Suzuki, which promoted the Frenchman into second.

Following a heart in mouth moment for Rins after he clipped the white line on the inside of the track, Francesco Bagnaia continued to show Ducati’s straight-line dominance by effortlessly passing Rins along the main straight at the start of lap 13.

Later that lap, Jack Miller and Joan Mir would find themselves contesting a fierce battle, which nearly ended up in a crash as the pair collided on the main straight, constantly trying to get ahead of one another.

Embed from Getty Images

Fabio Quartararo started to challenge Rins for fourth position. The Frenchman managed to slot his Yamaha up the inside of the Spaniard on the brakes as they tipped into turn one. Rins did attempt to retake the position later that lap through the triple right-hand complex, but Quartararo replied straight back as he set sights on a podium.

The very next lap, the Yamaha of Quartararo made a very tidy move on Bagnaia into turn 15 which moved the Frenchman into the podium positions. The Italian retook third momentarily along the main straight thanks to Ducati’s fantastic straight-line speed, however the Italian out-braked himself into turn one on lap 17 which saw the Factory Ducati rider demoted to seventh.

With five laps to go, Quartararo was all over Johann Zarco’s rear tyre. ‘El Diablo’ overtook his compatriot into turn 10, as he moved up to second and only three tenths behind race leader Jorge Martin.

Corners later, the man on a mission Quartararo identically repeated the move he made on Bagnaia two laps earlier but this time on race leader Martin who’d ridden an excellent race from lights out.

As usual, the Ducati’s straight-line speed helped the long-time race leader glide back past the helpless Frenchman along the main straight.

The Yamaha man got a fantastic run out of the long turn two as he set himself up through the turn three kink. Calm and composed, Quartararo slotted his Yamaha up the inside of Jorge Martin’s Pramac Ducati into turn four and started to pull away to minimise the chances of being overtaken on the straight.

Later on lap 19, Maverick Vinales tried to get onto the podium places by overtaking Zarco into turn 10. The Spaniard made the move stick, however, due to a mistake at turn 16, this allowed the Frenchman to reclaim his podium spot.

Vinales was all over Zarco’s rear tyre throughout laps 20 and 21 but unfortunately for the Spaniard, he didn’t quite have enough to get past and was overtaken by Alex Rins at turn one on the 22nd and final lap.

With two corners to go, Johann Zarco overtook his teammate into turn 15 (another example of a trademark overtake we’ve seen over the course of the Losail double-header) and made the move stick to the line as Zarco claimed back-to-back second places.

Embed from Getty Images

Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo was victorious as he made it double delight for the Factory Yamaha Team by claiming his first win since the Catalan Grand Prix last September.

Quartararo and Zarco appearing on the podium is the first time since 1954 that French riders have shared the podium in the premier class.

A perfectly executed race strategy that was nearly identical to his teammate Maverick Vinales’ last week, moves the 21-year-old from Nice up to second in the Riders’ Standings on 36 points and level with his teammate Vinales, both riders only four behind Quartararo’s compatriot Johann Zarco.

MotoGP rookie Jorge Martin claimed his first podium in only his second start in the class. The Spaniard will be delighted with his showing this weekend as he claimed his maiden pole and podium in MotoGP – the first of many more to come!

What’s Next?

MotoGP takes a two-week break before the European leg of the season gets underway with the Portuguese Grand Prix, which is held at the Portimao Circuit situated on the Algarve coast.

Here, eight-time Champion Marc Marquez will be hoping to make a comeback after a year of injury complications and will start to challenge French duo Fabio Quartararo and Johann Zarco for the 2021 World Championship.

Follow us on Twitter @ProstInt


About Author

1 Comment

  1. geoffrey todd on

    Absolutely brilliant Harv. keep up the good week, it was so informative especially for those who missed the race on tv, it keeps everyone up to date.