Bastianini wins Qatar MotoGP, DNFs for Ducatis factory


Enea Bastianini. Photo:

Gresini Racing’s Enea Bastianini won the Qatar Grand Prix as his factory Ducati counterparts Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia failed to complete the first race of the MotoGP season.

Bastianini took a maiden premier class victory in his year-old Ducati, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Brad Binder finished second in a stunning turnaround after pre-season testing, and Repsol Honda’s Pol Espargaro took the third place under the spotlight of the international circuit of Lusail.

Marc Marquez was fifth on the second factory Honda and 2021 champion Fabio Quartararo finished ninth on his factory Yamaha, while Tech3 KTM’s Remy Gardner picked up a championship point when the Sydney native finished 15th, the first of the recruits.

However, Miller retired with technical drama and Bagnaia only managed to knock out fellow Ducati rider Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) as they raced down the back of the top 10.

The start has already been a shock for most Ducatis GP22s, with Martin moving from pole position to seventh, Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) from fourth on the grid to 10th at the end of the stopped lap, and Bagnaia as far behind as 15th.

For Honda it was the opposite, with Espargaro dropping from sixth to first and Marquez dropping to second, while Binder dropped from seventh to third.

Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) made two overtakes on the first lap to claim fourth at the start, ahead of Bastianini and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing), while Martin even briefly fell behind Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) before reclaiming seventh place. .

Marquez went down inside Pol Espargaro at Turn 1 on Lap 2 but couldn’t make the move, before Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) passed Quartararo for eighth at the start of Lap 4.

The field had settled into something of a rhythm by then, with Pol Espargaro leading a train that stretched deep into the top 10 but the No.44 looked comfortable in the lead.

Bagnaia had climbed to 10th by then, but Miller was going in the opposite direction, losing positions at a steady pace.

Binder took second when Marquez ran wide at Turn 1 on Lap 6, and Bastianini passed Mir for fourth at Turn 4 on the same lap.

From there the top four started to slip away and Bastianini moved up to third when he passed Marquez at the start of lap 7.

Pol Espargaro had extended his lead to a full second when Bastianini finally converted the pressure into a pass from second-placed Binder as they raced towards Turn 1 at the start of lap 14.

Meanwhile, Aleix Espargaro had moved up to fifth, having passed Mir on lap eight, and was chasing the #93 Honda which was losing touch with the podium places.

The Aprilia rider passed Marquez on lap 17 at turn 15, as Bastianini clinched the other factory Honda at the front of the field.

The Gresini driver had a run on Pol Espargaro at the end of lap 18 and spun ahead as they raced down the straight, before the No.44 braked at Turn 1 and also gave up second to Binder .

Bastianini was over a second ahead at the end of lap 20 and while Binder closed at a fairly quick pace on the final two laps, the Italian had enough reserve to win by 0.346s.

It created emotional scenes, with the win being the team’s first since founder Fausto Gresini died with COVID-19 ahead of the 2021 season.

Pol Espargaro was almost a second further on the final podium, ahead of Aleix Espargaro, Marquez and Mir.

Rins finished seventh, and Pramac Ducati rider Johann Zarco pinched eighth from fellow Frenchman Quartararo right at the finish line, with Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu LCR Honda) rounding out the top 10.

As a Ducati won, it was an embarrassing night for the Bologna marque’s factory team.

Bagnaia crashed on lap 12 and took Martin with him, in what was a turn 1 overtaking attempt for just eighth position.

By then Miller had already stopped at the end of lap 7 with what was reported to be a possible electronics issue for entry #43, with the Queenslander falling to the last of those still standing at the time.

Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha) took the checkered flag in 11th, ahead of Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing), Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Ducati), Andrea Dovizioso (WithU RNF Yamaha) and Gardner.

The other three finishers were rookies Darryn Binder (WithU RNF Yamaha), Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Ducati) and Raul Fernandez (Tech3 KTM) 16th through 18th respectively.

In addition to Martin and Bagnaia, those who crashed were Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM), Alex Marquez (Castrol LCR Honda) and Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Ducati), which is six DNFs once Miller is taken into account.

In the championship, Bastianini has 25 points, Binder 20 and Pol Espargaro 16.

Round two is the Indonesia Grand Prix, at Mandalika Street Circuit, March 18-20.

Race Results: Qatar MotoGP

Pos Number Rider Nat Team Bike Time/interval
1 23 Enea BASTIANINI ITA Gresini Racing Moto GP Ducati 42:13.198
2 33 Brad Binder RSA Red Bull KTM Factory Race KTM +0.346
3 44 Pol ESPARGARO ESP Repsol Honda Team Honda +1.351
4 41 Alex ESPARGARO ESP Aprilia Racing Aprilia +2.242
5 93 Mark Marquez ESP Repsol Honda Team Honda +4.099
6 36 Joan Mir ESP The SUZUKI ECSTAR team Suzuki +4.843
7 42 Alex RINS ESP The SUZUKI ECSTAR team Suzuki +8.810
8 5 John ZARCO ENG Pramac Racing Ducati +10.536
9 20 Fabio QUARTARARO ENG Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha +10.543
ten 30 Takaaki NAKAGAMI JPN LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda +14.967
11 21 Franco Morbidelli ITA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha +16.712
12 12 Maverick VIÑALES ESP Aprilia Racing Aprilia +23.216
13 ten Luca MARINI ITA Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati +27.283
14 04 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA With U Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team Yamaha +27.374
15 87 Remy Gardner AU Tech3 KTM Factory Race KTM +41.107
16 40 Darryn BINDER RSA With U Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team Yamaha +41.119
17 49 Fabio DI GIANANTONIO ITA Gresini Racing Moto GP Ducati +41.349
18 25 Raúl FERNANDEZ ESP Tech3 KTM Factory Race KTM +42.357
DNF 89 JORGE MARTIN ESP Pramac Racing Ducati +11 rounds
DNF 63 Francesco BAGNAIA ITA Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati +11 rounds
DNF 88 Miguel OLIVEIRA ORP Red Bull KTM Factory Race KTM +12 rounds
DNF 73 Alex Marquez ESP LCR Honda CASTROL Honda +13 rounds
DNF 72 Marco BEZZECCHI ITA Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati +16 rounds
DNF 43 Jack MILLER AU Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati +16 rounds

Race winner: 22 laps

riders championship

Pos Rider Nat Points
2 Brad Binder RSA 20
5 Mark Marquez ESP 11
6 Joan Mir ESP ten
7 Alex RINS ESP 9
8 John ZARCO ENG 8
ten Takaaki NAKAGAMI JPN 6
11 Franco Morbidelli ITA 5
12 Maverick VIÑALES ESP 4
13 Luca MARINI ITA 3
15 Remy Gardner AU 1
16 Darryn BINDER RSA 0

Comments are closed.