After a long Winter break and a lot of work over the last months, the 2018 Grand Prix World Championship season finally started with three excellent races in MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3. The circuit of Losail, Qatar, celebrating its 15th anniversary of a GP race, hosted some intense racing and tight finishes in all classes.
In MotoGP, Andrea Dovizioso, or “Desmo” Dovi as he’s also known, secured a hard-fought win over Marc Marquez, with the battle between the Ducati Factory and the Repsol Honda riders lasting right until the last moment.
Dovizioso didn’t start the Qatar GP in the best way, slipping far behind the leading pack in the first few laps of the race. Frenchman Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech3) started from pole position and led most of the race, until Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha) tried an attack on the lead and made way to Marquez and Dovizioso, which managed to claw his way back up the order, join the two Yamaha riders at the front.
Rossi didn’t have the speed to keep up with the leading trio, and Zarco grabbed the lead with all his strength, but it just wasn’t enough. Marquez and Dovizioso were on another level in Qatar, and the two riders eventually passed Zarco and then battled until the checkered flag for the win. Marquez even tried to do a last corner move on Dovizioso, but 2017 MotoGP runner-up maintained his cool, and used all the power that the Ducati makes to pick up his first win of the season, followed closely by Marquez.
A little further back, Valentino Rossi, starting his 23rd racing season at world level, made sure Yamaha got on the podium and secured a third place in the end, while Zarco payed the price of being in front of the race for so long and ended in 8th.
In MotoGP there’s also good reasons for Malaysia to celebrate!
Hafizh Syahrin, Monster Yamaha Tech3, just made history when he became the first Malaysian rider to get points in MotoGP. Battling most of the time in the middle of the pack and against far more experienced riders, Syahrin managed to avoid any mistakes that could compromise his first race in MotoGP, and in the end of the 22 laps he crossed the line in 14th position, giving him the first two points of the season!
In the end of the Qatar GP, Hafizh Syharin had this to say about his first MotoGP race
“I felt really good in the race. I want to say a huge thank you to my team, because they did a great job. I finished my first MotoGP race inside the points, which is even beyond my target, but when you put your focus and your motivation there, it is possible. Around seven laps to go, I changed the power of the bike and four laps later, I switched back again. It’s also a huge part of my learning curve to understand the electronics. I was a bit nervous in the race, I didn’t want to make any mistake and end up in the gravel. I finished the race and brought two points for the team, which makes me truly happy. I hope, I can improve more in the next race and I continue training hard in order to be more ready and give the challenge to the rest of the riders”.
In Moto2, it was the Italian rider from the Sky VR46 team, Francesco Bagnaia, that took home his first win in the intermediate class. Bagnaia started from the front row and was in the lead by the end of the first lap, and during the whole race he didn’t lose his concentration and guaranteed the victory.
Second spot in Qatar went to another Italian, Lorenzo Baldassarri, Pons HP40 team, while “pole man” Alex Marquez had a technical problem on his Moto2 bike from Estrella Galicia Marc VDS team, that didn’t allow him to go higher than third.
Two Malaysian riders, Khairul Idham Pawi and Zulfahmi Khairuddin, were also on track in the Moto2 class. They finished this first race of the year in 23rd and 28th respectively.
This is what Zulfahmi Khairuddin had to say about the race in Qatar
“I made quite a good start today and was able to pass some riders; I was able to brake earlier and go on the inside. When I was with the other riders I could manage the pace and was consistently quicker than my qualifying lap time; we improved 1.5 seconds. As the fuel went down I started to struggle to turn the bike but still in this race, I have learned a lot of things. The limit is still far for me but I have a great team and they’re doing the best job to help me to improve and gain more confidence, so thanks to them for this. Thank you to all my sponsors for this opportunity too. If I can do well in Moto2 it makes me a better rider because the Moto2 class is really, really tough!”.
In the smallest class of the Grand Prix World Championship, Moto3, the race, which was held during day time unlike the other classes that had to run under the lights of Losail, was a question of who was going to be the Spanish rider that would get the win.
In the end it was Jorge Martin that took the win for the Del Conca Gresini team, racing a Honda bike, crossing the line just 0.023s before his compatriot Aron Canet of the Estrella Galicia 0,0 team also on a Honda, with Italian Lorenzo Dalla Porta, Leopard Racing, closing the podium with yet another Honda bike.
Malaysian rider Adam Norrodin, racing for the Petronas Sprinta Racing team, did a really good job in Qatar, and starts the season with a solid 11th place that gets him 5 points in the World Moto3 championship. Norrodin crossed the line just under a second of the third place, and so he’ll be looking for an even better result in the second round of the season.
This is what Adam Norrodin had to say about his race in Qatar
“We started the race from quite far back in 17th place, so I’m happy we could improve on this and finish today with some points. My start today was not good at all; I think maybe I was a bit nervous. I dropped a position on the first lap and then had to find my rhythm from there. The race was a little bit crazy; everyone was pushing so hard. Nevertheless I felt good on the bike and was able to start making my way past some riders. Of course I would have like more today but I feel confident we will get stronger. We have some good information from this first race; we know what we need and how we can improve. I will keep working and try to make a better result in the next race”.
Next stop for the Grand Prix World Championship will be in Argentina, where the riders from all classes will face the fast flowing Circuito Termas de Rio Hondo, in just two weeks time.
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