Doha, Qatar – Ducati Team rider Andrea Dovizioso won the Qatar Motorcycle Grand Prix at the Losail International Circuit by just 0.027s from Honda’s Marc Marquez, after a sensational final-lap showdown, with Yamaha veteran Valentino Rossi completing the podium.
South African riders Brad Binder and Steven Odendaal flew the flag proudly with sixth and 22nd respectively in Moto2 but Binder’s younger brother Darryn, in his debut ride for the works KTM team crashed out of 11th on lap four of the Moto3 race.
Johann Zarco (Yamaha Tech 3) shot off pole position to take the lead into the first corner under the floodlights of Qatar, but there was nothing to split the top 10 riders in the opening laps.
With big battles taking place behind him, Zarco kept calm at the front while Rossi made his way through the field to get into podium fighting positions by the third lap, hunting down his fellow Yamaha in the lead. Marquez was never far away from the fight, sitting in the top five as soon as the lights went out.
Dovizioso moved up to third on lap 11 as he spent the start of the race working through the field, passing Rossi, who had slipped back to the riders fighting for fifth. A clear battled had now developed for the podium, with Dovizioso and Marquez closing in on Zarco.
They made their move at the start of lap 18, relegating Zarco to third in Turn 1, with Dovizisoso the new leader. Reigning world champion Marquez made his move through Turn 15 on the final but was unable to make it stick; Dovizoso led into the final corner and was able to slingshot his Desmosedici over the line, 0.027s ahead.
Rossi fought off a late charge from Honda privateer to secure a safe third while Ducati satellite rider Danilo Petrucci made some strong moves in the closing laps to complete the top five and Maverick Vinales on the second factory Yamaha finished sixth after being down in 14th on the opening lap.
Making his 200th start in the premier class, Dani Pedrosa on the second factory Honda took seventh ahead of early race leader Zarco, Andrea Iannone (Suzuki) and Jack Miller who completed the top 10 in his first race for Pramac Ducati.
Francesco Bagnaia took a sensational maiden victory, beating Lorenzo Baldassarri to the line by 0.112s as the outcome was decided on the final lap under the floodlights, with Alex Marquez rounding out an all-Kalex podium.
Bagnaia got a strong start off the line, taking the lead into the first corner with the sun still in the sky, as pole position man Marquez had a slight moment with factory KTM rider Miguel Oliveira going into Turn 1.
Bagnaia and Baldassarri led the way ahead of Marquez, who quickly recovered from the wobble, but Bagnaia soon pulled out enough of a lead that he could control the race from the front, with Baldassarri and Marquez chasing him and five-way battle developing for fourth.
Marquez picked up a problem as he was close to overtaking Baldassarri for second, running off track in Turn 1 in lap 15, with his rear brake disc glowing under the night sky. He managed to hang onto the final podium spot, holding off Mattia Pasini, who took fourth.
Holding the lead into the final laps, Bagnaia was edging closer to his maiden victory in Moto2, just as Baldassarri began to hunt him down. The fight was neck and neck on the final lap; Baldassarri made his move into the secondlast corner and briefly took the lead, only for Bagnaia to grab it straight back and holding the advantage to the line.
Oliveira finished a distant fifth, just ahead of his team-mate Brad Binder, with Marcel Schrotter seventh, beating his team-mate Xavi Vierge by just 0.097s, while Luca Marini beat Jorge Navarro for ninth.
Jorge Martin took his second career Moto3 in fine style, waiting four months to secure back-to-back victories, beating Aron Canet to the line by just 0.023s, with Lorenzo Dalla Porta a distant third to make it an all-Honda podium.
Pole-sitter Niccolo Antonelli (Honda) got the hole shot but Martin stormed off the line and an early lead, pulling a gap of more than half a second in the opening four laps. But he wasn’t left alone for long as Canet and Enea Bastianini (Honda) soon caught up, only for Bastianini to crash out of second on lap six. leaving Martin and Canet to lead the way.
Third position and the final spot on the podium was a sensational battle, as five riders became nine, swopping paint on each lap. Dalla Porta, Niccolo Antonelli, Gabriel Rodrigo (KTM), Fabio di Giannantonio (Honda), Kaito Toba (Honda), Ayumu Sasaki (Honda), John Mcphee (KTM) and Marco Bezzecchi (KTM) took it right down to the line, with McPhee crashing out on the final lap.
Dalla Porta took his maiden podium finish by just 0.045s from Antonelli, with early race leader Rodrigo fifth and Di Giannantonio after a storming ride from 16th position on the grid. Toba was seventh, Sasaki was eighth, Jakub Kornfeil (KTM) ninth and Andrea Migno (KTM) rounded out the top 10 – less than a second behind Dalla Porta.