‌2021‌ ‌Qatar‌ ‌MotoGP:‌ ‌Vinales‌ ‌wins‌ ‌first‌ ‌race‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ season

    Published On Mar 30, 2021 04:48:00 PM

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    Vinales won the opening race of the 2021 MotoGP championship, ahead of Zarco and Bagnaia.

    The first race of the 2021 MotoGP championship brought a fair share of excitement and close racing. At the end of 22 laps at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar, Maverick Vinales was the first to cross the line, followed by Johann Zarco and polesitter, Francesco Bagnaia.

    Strong opening laps from Ducati

    Despite early dominance from the Ducatis, Maverick Vinales, who started 3rd, managed to stitch together a slew of fast, clean laps that got him to the front of the pack. He managed to hold onto an undisputed lead after that, while the rest of the podium places were up for grabs up until the final few metres.

    In his first race for the factory Ducati team, Bagnaia started his season with a bang by qualifying on pole, ahead of Fabio Quartararo and Viñales. He got off the line rather quickly as well and was leading the first half of the race, ahead of teammate Jack Miller and the Pramac Ducati pair of Zarco and rookie Jorge Martín, who climbed to 4th after starting 12th.

    However, Martin was unable to match the race pace of the riders in front of him and was passed by the factory Yamaha riders, Viñales and Fabio Quartararo. Quartararo also had an impressive few laps and was running in 2nd at the midway point.

    Top gun returns

    At the midway point of the race is also when Viñales made his move up to 3rd place. With 11 laps remaining, Bagnaia's lead came under threat from Viñales and he fell back to 2nd. Bagnaia's 2nd place soon became 3rd, as Zarco claimed the position with five laps to go. The French rider's aspirations to finish in 3rd were also soon under pressure as the defending champion, Joan Mir, started to size him up for an overtake. Mir followed Bagnaia closely and made his move going into the penultimate corner. Going into the last corner, Mir was defending pressure from the Ducatis of Bagnaia and Zarco and ran wide. The two Ducati riders managed to stay on the race line and their bikes - that have proved to be quicker on the straight - outpaced Mir’s Suzuki, to claim the last two spots on the podium.

    Suzuki, Ducati and Yamaha all had reason to celebrate, but the same can’t be said for KTM and Honda. Marc Marquez was not on the grid, as he continues to recover from an injury sustained in the opening race of the 2020 season, and is expected to join the paddock for round three in Portugal. Honda’s factory rider Pol Espargaró finished the race in 8th place, ahead of podium hopeful Miller. The two LCR Honda riders, Taka Nakagami and Alex Marquez, crashed out in the race.

    The teams will meet again in just a week’s time at the same circuit for round two of the 2021 MotoGP championship.

    Who do you think stands a chance at being champion this year? Let us know in the comments below.

    2021 Qatar MotoGP results

    POS

    RIDER

    TEAM

    LAPS

    GAP

    1

    Maverick Viñales

    Yamaha

    22

    42m28.663s

    2

    Johann Zarco

    Pramac Ducati

    22

    1.092s

    3

    Francesco Bagnaia

    Ducati

    22

    1.129s

    4

    Joan Mir

    Suzuki

    22

    1.222s

    5

    Fabio Quartararo

    Yamaha

    22

    3.030s

    6

    Alex Rins

    Suzuki

    22

    3.357s

    7

    Aleix Espargaro

    Aprilia

    22

    5.934s

    8

    Pol Espargaro

    Honda

    22

    5.990s

    9

    Jack Miller

    Ducati

    22

    7.058s

    10

    Enea Bastianini

    Avintia Ducati

    22

    9.288s

    11

    Stefan Bradl

    Honda

    22

    10.299s

    12

    Valentino Rossi

    Petronas Yamaha

    22

    10.742s

    13

    Miguel Oliveira

    KTM

    22

    11.457s

    14

    Brad Binder

    KTM

    22

    14.100s

    15

    Jorge Martin

    Pramac Ducati

    22

    16.422s

    16

    Luca Marini

    Avintia Ducati

    22

    20.916s

    17

    Iker Lecuona

    KTM Tech3

    22

    21.026s

    18

    Franco Morbidelli

    Petronas Yamaha

    22

    23.892s

    19

    Lorenzo Savadori

    Aprilia

    22

    46.346s

    -

    Alex Marquez

    LCR Honda

    13

    Retirement

    -

    Takaaki Nakagami

    LCR Honda

    6

    Retirement

    -

    Danilo Petrucci

    KTM Tech3

    0

    Retirement

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