Qatar GP: Vinales wins season-opener in commanding form

It’s Maverick Vinales who comes out on top in the Qatar GP, taking a controlling victory ahead of Johann Zarco and Pecco Bagnaia.

As the lights went out, four Ducati-powered bikes were at the front in the form of Bagnaia, Jack Miller, Zarco and Jorge Martin.

Martin got off to a stunning start from 14th on the grid, making his way up to fourth on the Pramac by the end of the first sector.

There was just one casualty on Lap 1 – Tech3’s Danilo Petrucci found himself in the gravel at Turn 2 and was forced to an early retirement.

Miller looked to be one of the favourites heading into the race, but was passed by Zarco at the start of Lap 2 and continued to drop down the order as the race went on.

Martin’s stint at the front began to fade away by Lap 4, being overtaken hand over fist by his rivals and eventually dropped out of the top-ten.

Bagnaia and Zarco had never won a race coming into the Qatar GP, and both found themselves first and second, separated by less than a second.

Miller’s drop down the field continued on Lap 7, Fabio Quartararo placing his Yamaha nicely to pass the Australian rider at Turn 1.

The second crash of the race came at Turn 9 on the seventh lap when Taka Nakagami ended his race in the gravel after a low-side crash.

As the race progressed, the Suzuki’s came into play. Rins closed up on Miller in fifth by Lap 10, and eventually got the Ducati on Lap 14.

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Eventual race winner Vinales had work to do from the beginning of the race, and began his push on Lap 11, overtaking teammate Quartararo for third at Turn 1.

The Spaniard continued his push through the front pack, making a nice move on Zarco on Lap 12 for second, and eventually made a move for the lead past Bagnaia on Lap 15.

It was a day to forget for LCR Honda, their second rider Alex Marquez ended up in the gravel at Turn 4 on Lap 14.

Reigning Champion Joan Mir made a charge up the order, going from seventh to third in four laps.

The end of the race ended up being a drag-race to the line for the final two podium spots, Zarco and Bagnaia rocketed past the Suzuki of Mir to take second and third.

Vinales took the chequered flag 1.1s ahead of Zarco, who was just 0.037s ahead of Bagnaia.

Mir ended the race in fourth, 1.8s ahead of Yamaha’s Quartararo, Rins came across the line in sixth place.

Aleix Espargaro had a strong race on his Aprilia, finishing 0.056s ahead of Pol Espargaro.

Jack Miller will be disappointed with today’s result, the Ducati rider came across the line in ninth, 2.230s ahead of top rookie Enea Bastianini.

Stefan Bradl finished 11th, 0.443s ahead of SRT’s Valentino Rossi in 12th.

KTM’s tough weekend continued in the race, Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder found themselves in 13th and 14th at the chequered flag.

Pramac’s Martin came across the line in 15th as the final points scorer of the Qatar GP.

The MotoGP action continues at Qatar in just one week, and after today’s race, Vinales will hope to make it a double in Losail.