Fantastic win for Dovizioso in GP of Qatar. The Italian rider, with eight wins to his name, becomes the second most successful Ducati rider of all time in MotoGP, after Stoner. Lorenzo forced to retire after a crash caused by a technical problem
Andrea Dovizioso scored a splendid victory in the Grand Prix of Qatar, the opening round of the 2018 MotoGP World Championship held this evening at the Losail International Circuit.
The Ducati Team’s Italian rider, who started from row 2, was unable to get a good start when the lights went out and he crossed the line at the end of the opening lap in seventh place. Dovizioso then moved up into the leading group, battling with Marquez, Rossi and Zarco and then took over at the front on lap 18, followed closely by the Spanish rider who tried an attack at the final curve. Andrea once again was able to get through on the inside and taking advantage of the acceleration of his Desmosedici GP18, he crossed the line 0.027s ahead of his Honda rival.
Thanks to today’s win Dovizioso has overtaken Loris Capirossi in the list of most victorious Ducati riders in MotoGP with eight wins to his name, and is now in second place in this particular ranking behind Casey Stoner.
It was an unfortunate race for Jorge Lorenzo, who started from row 3 with ninth-quickest time. The Spanish rider, after a complicated start, had managed to get up to tenth place together with Viñales and Miller on lap 12. Unfortunately a technical problem on the next lap caused him to crash and he had to retire.
The MotoGP World Championship will be back on track again at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit for the Argentina GP on April 8th
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 1st
“I’m really happy with this win because we have confirmed the improvements made over the winter and I was able to manage the race well, even though I made a really bad start. On the first lap I had to come off the gas, otherwise I would have crashed into Rins I think, but then I began to make up places, trying not to ruin the tyres.. Towards the end, after passing Zarco, I tried to pull out a gap on Marquez and Rossi but I didn’t have any more grip and was unable to increase my lead. At the last curve I had to be very careful because I knew that Marquez would try and pass me, and that’s how it went. He closed the door on me even more than in Austria and Japan, but I passed him on the inside of the kerb and then took advantage of the power of my Desmosedici to stay ahead. Once again it was a great satisfaction!”
Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team #99) – DNF
“It wasn’t one of the best weekends for me. I had a lot of problems and my crash was the result of a problem with the front brakes. Already on lap 2 I realized that something wasn’t right and I tried to manage the situation, but the problem was getting worse. I thought it was an overheating problem, but when I was about to catch Iannone I wasn’t able to stop the bike and I tipped myself off to avoid worse damage. Now we have to understand what exactly happened to prevent the same problem from repeating itself in the future. It’s a pity because I was lapping with good times and I think I could have got closer to the leading group.”
Claudio Domenicali (CEO of Ducati Motor Holding S.p.A.)
“It was a fantastic race! MotoGP is getting better and better because there are a lot of really competitive riders, but here at Losail our bike was in great shape and was really fast. Andrea rode so well, despite a bit of a difficult start, and by now he’s demonstrating he has an extraordinary racing maturity and great confidence in his bike, which allowed him to manage the race perfectly. Marquez and Rossi were also great today, but DesmoDovi had just that little bit more. Pity about Jorge, who was recovering well when unfortunately he crashed. This is the first round of the 2018 championship and I want to dedicate this victory to all the guys in Ducati and Ducati Corse and thank them for their commitment which has enabled us to produce this Desmosedici GP18, which already seems to be in excellent form!”
Losail (Qatar), 18th March 2018
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP‘s Valentino Rossi landed his first podium finish of the 2018 MotoGP season with a strong third place at the Losail International Circuit. Maverick Viñales also battled for all he was worth and rode a superb catch-up race from 15th to 6th place, earning himself some crucial championship points.
Rossi had a lightning fast start from eighth place and stormed to fourth on a perfect opening lap. With a podium place in his grasp, he closed in on Dani Pedrosa and cruised past him at the end of the second lap on the start-finish straight, before making a text-book move, breaking hard into the first corner.
The leading pair, Johann Zarco and Marc Marquez, ran a hot rhythm, but not strong enough to shake off the Doctor. He was a man on a mission, determined not to let them escape and dropping consistent 1‘55s laps. With 17 laps to go, the Italian made his move on Marquez, so he could challenge Zarco for the lead, but soon things got tense. At the start of the 11th lap the 39-year-old went wide into turn 1, allowing Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso through, but he didn‘t let it get to him.
The final five laps were exactly what the fans had hoped for. Rossi fought his way past Zarco for third. The 46-rider threw everything he had at breaking away from chasing riders, which he managed perfectly. However, he was unable to get close enough to battle with Dovizioso and Marquez in the final laps and finished the first race of the season with a well-deserved third place, 0.797s from first.
Viñales made a cautious start, dropping back from 12th on the grid to 15th place in the opening laps, but that certainly didn‘t mean he was out for the count. After three laps, he got into the rhythm and started his charge. He was running the same pace as the leading group and as a result he barged through the rider field.
With Alex Rins and Jorge Lorenzo crashing out with 10 laps to go, the number-25 rider breached into the top-10. He then picked off Jack Miller on the next lap and also overtook Andrea Iannone for eighth place one lap later.
Viñales had his sights set on the front group. They were fighting some 2.5s ahead of him, but his pace was still red hot, as he kept posting times in the 1‘55s. With three laps to go the Spaniard tapped onto the back of Pedrosa. A lap later he overtook his compatriot and also breezed past Zarco. He gave Danilo Petrucci a run for his money for fifth place, but he ultimately had to settle for sixth position, 3.888s from the front.
Today’s race results see Rossi take third place in the championship with a nine-point gap to the leader, while Viñales secures sixth place in the standings, 15 points from the front. Yamaha is in third place in the Constructor classification, nine points from first, and Movistar Yamaha MotoGP are in second place in the Team title challenge, with three points to the top of the rankings.
The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team will be back in action in three weeks’ time at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit for the Gran Premio Motul de la República Argentina, held from April 6th – 8th.
What a fantastic race to open the season with! We were pretty confident after yesterday‘s FP4 and today‘s Warm Up that our riders would be able to run a competitive pace and our predictions came true. Valentino had a fantastic start, which was key to securing today‘s third place. He did a brilliant job staying at the front of the field, while the pace was as high as it was, and he was only 0.797s away from first place. Maverick had a difficult task ahead of him starting from the fourth row, but as soon as he got a clear track in front of him he was able to keep up a really good pace. He posted consistent 1‘55-low laps, that allowed him to catch up with the leading group. The form that both our riders showed today is very motivating for the team, especially after a challenging start to the Qatar GP. I want to thank the riders, team members and engineers for their hard work. We aim to continue working in this way in Argentina in three weeks‘ time.
It was a great fight and a great race. Sincerely, last year it was a bigger surprise to me – it was less expected then to arrive on the podium. With the bike from this year I feel good. This time I was more competitive and I knew I could do a good race, but you never know if it‘s enough for the podium because we were with ten strong riders. I tried to push from the beginning, because I started from the third row and on the first lap I was able to overtake some guys. The other key point were the final laps, when like last year the strongest on the track were Dovizioso and Marquez. I knew they had enough to change the rhythm, but I‘m very happy that I could go with them today and arrive at the finish line close to them, at the end. Unfortunately, it was not enough for the victory, but the podium is a great way to start.
In today‘s race I felt really good with the bike, better than I did before. We followed the direction of how I wanted the bike and we improved so much, especially our rhythm. Now that we have done that, we know we have a good bike and we can focus on improving other things. Honestly, during the tests I didn‘t try many starts, I was focused on the bike, so today‘s start was bad. However, now we‘ve recovered the feeling with the bike – especially for the race – we can work on other areas. We found a good set-up, but we can still improve and match the electronics more to my riding style, and we can also work on the starts. When you finish a race like today‘s, you wish that the next GP would be held the next weekend. We‘re quite motivated. I felt that, if I had been more towards the front today, I could have had a chance to win the race. I’m happy the team did such a great job, especially on Saturday in the afternoon. We found something good for our riding style and that‘s perfect.
How close do you like it? Another last lap showdown sparks the Championship into gear
Opening the season with a sensational last lap performance, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) beat Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) to the line at the Losail International Circuit by just 0.027s, lighting the fuse on 2018 from the very first race. And the ‘Doctor’ Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) completed the podium, putting in another Sunday stunner from Row 3 of the grid.
Frenchman Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) shot off pole position to take the lead into the first corner but there was nothing to split the top ten riders in the opening laps, and it looked as if any one of them could fight for the victory throughout the 22-lap thriller. With fastest laps flying in on each lap, Zarco was still able to keep hold of the lead.
With big battles taking place behind him, the French rider kept calm at the front whilst 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. As ten laps had been completed riders were getting into a rhythm, but you could sense action was on the horizon.
Silent assassin Dovizioso moved up to third position on lap 11 as he spent the start of the race working through the field, passing his countryman Rossi who 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 and they were able to make their move on the 18th lap, with Zarco losing two positions into the opening corner – as Dovizisoso took the lead.
Dovizioso and Marquez then began to break away, pushing themselves to the final corner of the final lap – taking no prisoners. Reigning world champion Marquez made his move through turn 15 but he was unable to make it stick, and Dovizoso led into the final corner meaning he was able to slingshot his Desmosedici over the line, 0.027s ahead. Another last lap showdown, and another Dovizioso victory in style.
Behind the duo, Rossi fought off his rivals to secure a safe third position ahead of top independent rider Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol), whilst Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) made some strong moves on the closing laps to complete the top five.
Comeback king Maverick Vinales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) crossed the line in sixth after being down in 14th on the opening lap, just ahead of Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team), who made his 200th start in the premier class. Early race leader Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) crossing the line in eighth after struggling more in the latter stages, with Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) completing the top ten.
Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) opened the season in 11th, ahead of top rookie Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) who crossed the line in the top 12, as Alvaro Bautista (Angel Nieto Team) salvaged three points from a tough weekend in 13th. Making his MotoGP™ debut, Malaysian Hafizh Syahrin (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) took a top 14 finish and his first points, ahead of Karel Abraham (Angel Nieto Team) who takes home the final point from Qatar in 15th.
It was a bad start to the season for Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar), who crashed out of the top six fight on the 13th lap at turn two, whilst Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) had a start to 2018 to forget and the Spaniard crashed out on the same lap – finding his brakes unresponsive at turn 16.
The paddock will now pack up and head to Argentina from 6th – 8th April for the second round of what is set to be a phenomenal MotoGP™ season – and the fuse is already lit.
Red Bull KTM establish margin to improve after tough Qatar MotoGP opener
RACE 1st Rd. MotoGP 2018 – Losail International Circuit (QAT)
Bradley Smith rides to 18th position in the first round of the 2018 MotoGP season despite a front grip problem while Red Bull KTM teammate Pol Espargaro was denied a best finish at Losail, Qatar with the KTM RC16 due to a minor electronic hitch. Red Bull KTM Ajo riders Miguel Oliveira & Brad Binder finished 5th and 6th in Moto2 with Gabriel Rodrigo fastest KTM rider in the Moto3 class on fifth place at the chequered flag.
Three days of wind, varying temperatures and more development workwith the KTM RC16 at the Losail International Circuit did not blow-in the results Red Bull KTM Factory Racing were expecting for the first round of nineteen in 2018 MotoGP. Pol Espargaro briefly put aside his technical issues from Saturday qualification to push up from a grid spot of 22nd and battle for 13th place with countryman Alvaro Bautista and within sight of the leading groups of the 22 lap affair. Sadly his designs on a slot near the top ten were dashed on lap 15 with a recurrence of the electronic ‘gremlin’ that curtailed his efforts in Saturday’s Q1.
Bradley Smith rallied to the edge of the points-scoring positions but front tyre fade just ten circulations into the race meant that the Brit had to slow his pace and made it to the finish line in 18th spot.
Bradley Smith: “I was really happy with the start of the race; I was aggressive and I made up some positions. I was in the mix and inside the points. For the first ten laps everything was working quite well and then I started to struggle with the front tyre and a lot of understeer and this was not something we had in any of the tests. The lap-times slowly dropped off. There were some corners where I was OK and others where I was just losing time. It was frustrating because I put myself in a good position to push along with the front guys. It was good to know more about where the KTM needs to improve by being with the other guys on track.”
Pol Espargaro: “During the race I felt quite OK. I was fighting for thirteenth position with (Alvaro) Bautista and less than twenty seconds from the top guys. Seeing how the whole weekend went and what we could do towards the end then it was not too bad. Again the problem we had on Saturday put us out of the points and out of the race. I think it is just bad luck. I’m completely sure we’ll get this fixed and start again in Argentina.”
Mike Leitner (Team Manager MotoGP): “It was positive that when Pol stopped he was just thirteen seconds away from the leader but of course it is a negative point that we couldn’t fix the issue we struggled with in qualifying yesterday. For sure it was a minor thing on the electronic side. Pol did five-six laps for the first time and this is something he couldn’t do in the winter test. When he will be back strong then we know we’ll be more competitive. Bradley was feeling good in the beginning of the race but when the front tyre dropped he lost the rhythm and this is something that not only happened to us tonight. We need to work hard and improve now. We knew this weekend would be tough for us.”
Zarco shows winning potential in Qatar – Syahrin makes history with first two MotoGP points
Johann Zarco commenced the season with a breathtaking performance at the Losail International Circuit. The Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider was shining brighter than the floodlights in the first 17 of 22 laps with a superior lead during the first MotoGP round of the year. Struggling with his tyres, the French star had to give the top away towards the end to eventually finish in 8th position.
On the other side of the Monster Yamaha Tech3 garage, Hafizh Syahrin was 17th after the first lap of his first ever premier class race and bravely fought with partly much more experienced riders to cross the line in 14th. Therewith, the talented rookie brought home the first ever MotoGP points for his native country Malaysia.
Position: 8th – Championship: 8th – Points: 8
“I had a nice weekend! The race has been good. To start from pole position was a great feeling and a good opportunity to take to fight with the top guys. I had a good start and I took over the top, because I wanted to lead the race and then I was quite comfortable there, not able to be faster than the others, but nobody overtook me. I tried to control the rear grip well, to have always some possibilities to go out from the corner, which was working well. Then, seven laps to the end, I tried to push a bit more to maybe make a gap, but already during the race I had some limit feeling from the front, that I didn’t experience during the practice. When the other guys overtook me five laps to the end, I really understood, that I wasn’t able to use the front tyre on the right side anymore in the correct way, which is why I couldn’t fight. It was really difficult, a few times, I almost crashed and to finish eighth in the end, was better than nothing, because in this condition, it’s good to finish the race at all.”
Position: 14th – Championship: 14th – Points: 2
“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.”
“An amazing round one in Qatar for the MotoGP and the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team! With the pole position, we were very pleased last night, but we knew, that the most difficult part was coming on race day. Honestly, I expected a tough fight, but I didn’t expect Johann to lead the race for the main time. He was looking quite comfortable. I can’t deny the fact, that I was starting to think that there is a possibility to finally win a race, but we could see, that he was struggling. We thought, that the tyres were the reason and he confirmed that. There was nothing he could do, just stick on the bike and hold on to the flag. Eight people were in the front group, which was quite close. Finally, it’s quite sad to end up last of that group, but on the other end, we have to be optimistic and see the glass half full and not half empty. There is a lot of positives. He’s here, he’s going to fight and I’m quite sure, that he’ll be again pushing for this victory, that is his and the whole team’s dream. On the other side of the garage, I think, we have to be more than happy, because Hafizh produced an unbelievable performance all through the weekend. His qualifying was great, although the start was not ideal. But it was his very first GP start and we told him, not to do any mistakes. So, he lost a few positions, but recovered. He was fighting hard with a lot of top guys and ended up with two points, which is an amazing performance. For sure, the improvement margin is huge, but anyway, big congratulations to him, big congratulations to Johann and the entire team, because everybody works really, really hard. This is not the end of the weekend, we would have hoped for, but we have to accept that this is part of the game and we have to focus now on having a rest and being ready for Argentina.”
ESPARGARÓ STOPS WITHIN A SHOUT OF THE TOP TEN
SCOTT REDDING TWENTIETH IN HIS DÉBUT RACE ASTRIDE THE RS-GP
A fuelling problem stopped Aleix Espargaró on the final lap, just as a good placement in the top ten was within reach.
In the second half of the race, Aleix had found a good pace, moving up several position, thanks in part to a couple of crashes by riders ahead of him. At the start of the final lap, he had caught up to Miller (tenth) and Iannone (ninth) with a good chance of overtaking them, considering the significant difference in pace. However, precisely during the last lap, a fuelling problem silenced the V4 in the number 41 Aprilia. In any case, Aleix managed to cross the finish line (in 19th place), but he had already lost his chances for the good result.
In his first race astride the Aprilia RS-GP, Scott Redding had to reckon with grip problems and was unable to move up from the rear guard, finishing twentieth.
“Despite the result, I am satisfied with the way I managed the race. I gave 100%, using a very conservative map straight away and managing in any case to maintain a good pace. I hoped to be able to use the more aggressive map in the race finale, where we know that we are faster, but that wasn’t possible. During the final lap I was about to attack Miller and Iannone, but some fuelling problems cost me a lot of positions. A ninth place finish in these conditions would have been an important result. We need to work together to solve this problem, without which I am convinced that we would have been able to battle in the group of the best 5-6 down to the end.”
“I can’t be pleased with the way the race went today. From the start I had poor grip on the rear and then at the end of the race things started working, so much that I did my fast lap on the last lap. Right now I am struggling to understand why. We need to analyse the data and it is most likely a problem that we did not have during the tests. Now we need to start working straight away to improve in view of the upcoming races. We know that our potential is greater than what we demonstrated today, but evidently we are missing something.”
ROMANO ALBESIANO – APRILIA RACING MANAGER
“This was a rather troubled weekend because of grip that came and went – extremely particularly tyre use conditions. These were very different conditions from last year as well as from those in the last pre-season tests. Even if we are still lacking something, we found a good solution with Aleix in the race, but we had a fuelling problem just as we were about to bring home a good top ten finish.”
FAUSTO GRESINI – TEAM MANAGER
“It’s a pity about a problem like that right in the last lap that frustrated all the hard work done by the riders, Aprilia and the entire team. We still need to get to know this new bike well, but I think it has huge potential. This complicated the entire weekend but, given the way Aleix’s race finished after a brilliant comeback ride, I’d say that we were also a bit unlucky. It was a difficult weekend, but the bike has improved a lot and I am sure that we are not far behind the leaders. We know that we still need to make an effort, but we have a whole championship season ahead of us.”