Qatar MotoGP: Vinales passes Ducati quartet to win

Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales ended Ducati’s Qatar Grand Prix stranglehold with a stunning victory in the 2021 MotoGP season-opener as world champion Joan Mir was denied a podium on the line.

Qatar MotoGP: Vinales passes Ducati quartet to win

Ducati has won the previous two Qatar GPs courtesy of Andrea Dovizioso, but Vinales ended that run after battling his way through the Desmosedicis after a slow start.

Poleman Francesco Bagnaia led a Ducati charge off the line, as teammate Jack Miller, Pramac’s Johann Zarco and his rookie teammate Jorge Martin from 14th on the grid blitzed the Yamahas into Turn 1.

Martin and Zarco engaged over third, with the Frenchman holding firm at Turn 6 while pre-race favourite Franco Morbidelli plummeted to 20th from seventh on the grid.

The Yamaha trio of Vinales, Fabio Quartararo and SRT’s Valentino Rossi regrouped later on the opening lap, with Quartararo leading them back to fifth.

The Frenchman would get ahead of Martin at Turn 6 on the third lap, with Vinales following him through at Turn 10.

Bagnaia’s lead over Zarco stood at seven tenths, while Quartararo’s charge behind continued as he got ahead of Miller at Turn 15 on lap six and shut the door on the Ducati rider on the run into Turn 1.

Vinales would follow his teammate through two tours later, with the Spaniard taking third from Quartararo on lap 11.

Zarco could do nothing to stop Vinales’ charge a lap later at Turn 10, with the strong headwind on Sunday stopping the Ducatis from utilising their horsepower advantage over the rest.

Vinales launched a raid on Bagnaia’s lead on lap 14 at Turn 10, but the Ducati would not yield and the pair came close to contact as they ran side-by-side through Turn 11.

The Yamaha rider got the job done a lap later at the same place and immediately pulled out a lead of over half a second as the Ducati riders ran into grip troubles.

Vinales’ charge at the front was relentless, his lead as large as 1.6s as he started the penultimate lap.

He came under no threat across the final lap to score his ninth career MotoGP victory and take an early lead in the championship.

Suzuki’s Mir came through from 10th on the grid to grab second from Zarco at Turn 15 on the final lap.

But the world champion ran wide at the last corner and allowed both Zarco and Bagnaia back through on the run to the chequered flag to demote him to fourth.

Quartararo made a late rally after being pushed down the order to end his first race as a factory Yamaha rider in fifth, with Alex Rins’ podium charge on the second Suzuki ultimately ending in sixth.

Aleix Espargaro was seventh on the Aprilia ahead of brother Pol on his factory Honda debut, while Miller faded to ninth ahead of top rookie Enea Bastianini on the Avintia Ducati.

Rossi couldn’t convert a strong fourth in qualifying to his 200th MotoGP podium on his SRT debut, the nine-time grand prix world champion an average 12th behind Honda’s Stefan Bradl.

Miguel Oliveira headed KTM teammate Brad Binder in 13th, while Martin faded to 15th in the end following his rapid start to the race.

Morbidelli’s woes persisted through the race, the 2020 championship runner-up taking the chequered flag in 18th behind Avintia rookie Luca Marini and Tech 3’s Iker Lecuona, but ahead of Aprilia’s Lorenzo Savadori.

Tech 3’s Danilo Petrucci crashed out on the opening lap, with LCR duo Takaaki Nakagami and Alex Marquez joining him on the sidelines through separate tumbles. 

Race results:

Cla # Rider Bike Time
1 12 Spain Maverick Viñales
Yamaha 42'28.663
2 5 France Johann Zarco
Ducati 42'29.755
3 63 Italy Francesco Bagnaia
Ducati 42'29.792
4 36 Spain Joan Mir
Suzuki 42'29.885
5 20 France Fabio Quartararo
Yamaha 42'31.693
6 42 Spain Alex Rins
Suzuki 42'32.020
7 41 Spain Aleix Espargaro
Aprilia 42'34.597
8 44 Spain Pol Espargaro
Honda 42'34.653
9 43 Australia Jack Miller
Ducati 42'35.721
10 23 Italy Enea Bastianini
Ducati 42'37.951
11 6 Germany Stefan Bradl
Honda 42'38.962
12 46 Italy Valentino Rossi
Yamaha 42'39.405
13 88 Portugal Miguel Oliveira
KTM 42'40.120
14 33 South Africa Brad Binder
KTM 42'42.763
15 89 Spain Jorge Martin
Ducati 42'45.085
16 10 Italy Luca Marini
Ducati 42'49.579
17 27 Spain Iker Lecuona
KTM 42'49.689
18 21 Italy Franco Morbidelli
Yamaha 42'52.555
19 32 Italy Lorenzo Savadori
Aprilia 43'15.009
73 Spain Alex Marquez
Honda 25'13.775
30 Japan Takaaki Nakagami
Honda 11'44.087
9 Italy Danilo Petrucci
KTM
shares
comments

Related video

Dovizioso's manager doubts race return in 2021 with Aprilia
Previous article

Dovizioso's manager doubts race return in 2021 with Aprilia

Next article

Vinales feels “Yamaha is back” after Qatar MotoGP win

Vinales feels “Yamaha is back” after Qatar MotoGP win
Load comments
How Ducati has drawn first blood in the 2022 MotoGP title race Prime

How Ducati has drawn first blood in the 2022 MotoGP title race

The 2021 MotoGP season may have only just ended but preparations for 2022 are well underway following a two-day test at Jerez this week. Ducati has hit the ground running while a lack of progress dominated Yamaha’s and world champion Fabio Quartararo’s test. While no battle lines have been drawn yet for 2022, it appears Ducati has already drawn first blood...

MotoGP
Nov 20, 2021
Why Suzuki's quest for a new MotoGP boss may be too late Prime

Why Suzuki's quest for a new MotoGP boss may be too late

Suzuki is on the search for a new team manager after its decision not to replace Davide Brivio at the start of 2021 was backed up by its unsuccessful bid to help Joan Mir defend his 2020 MotoGP world title. But whoever Shinichi Sahara appoints next, it may have already come too late to convince Mir to stick with the project

MotoGP
Nov 19, 2021
How Rossi got the perfect send-off to his MotoGP career Prime

How Rossi got the perfect send-off to his MotoGP career

The greatest chapter in MotoGP history came to a close at the Valencia Grand Prix as Valentino Rossi bid farewell after 26 seasons of grand prix racing. While his run to a strong 10th was a pleasing end to his time in MotoGP, it was what happened at the front of the grid that capped the Italian's ideal send-off

MotoGP
Nov 15, 2021
Why MotoGP's under-fire graduate has a point to prove Prime

Why MotoGP's under-fire graduate has a point to prove

OPINION: MotoGP-bound Darryn Binder was already under the microscope as his jump from Moto3 to join RNF's new top-class team was announced. But his crash with title hopeful Dennis Foggia caused significant consternation among the ranks - with many current riders suggesting the top level should be harder to break into as a result

MotoGP
Nov 9, 2021
How Portugal exposed the biggest threat to Quartararo Prime

How Portugal exposed the biggest threat to Quartararo

Fabio Quartararo’s first DNF of his title-winning 2021 MotoGP season couldn’t have come at a better time. But the events of the Yamaha rider’s Algarve Grand Prix exposed the M1’s well-known major weakness, which could threaten his championship defence given the increasingly Ducati-heavy makeup of the grid heading into 2022

MotoGP
Nov 8, 2021
What's really fuelling junior bike racing's dangerous aggression Prime

What's really fuelling junior bike racing's dangerous aggression

The pressure shouldered by young riders is at the root of the increased on-track aggression seen in lower categories of late, which motorcycling's governing bodies want to curb with new rules. But will stopping under-18s from racing in the world championship and capping grid sizes prevent the often desperate acts of youths pursuing their MotoGP dreams?

MotoGP
Nov 2, 2021
The three factors that crowned MotoGP's newest champion at Misano Prime

The three factors that crowned MotoGP's newest champion at Misano

The prospect of Fabio Quartararo clinching the 2021 MotoGP world championship title at Misano appeared small after struggling to 15th in qualifying, while main rival Francesco Bagnaia took pole. Here's how the Yamaha rider turned it around, with help from an ill-fated Bagnaia tyre choice, to secure the crown with two races to spare

MotoGP
Oct 25, 2021
Marco Simoncelli: Remembering MotoGP's ultimate maverick 10 years on Prime

Marco Simoncelli: Remembering MotoGP's ultimate maverick 10 years on

Saturday 23 October marks the 10th anniversary of Marco Simoncelli's death. The one-time 250cc world champion and double MotoGP podium finisher was the ultimate maverick character with big hair, a big personality and an even bigger talent. Motorsport.com pays tribute to a much-missed figure, a decade on.

MotoGP
Oct 23, 2021