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Images from the first day of the MotoGP event in Losail, Qatar

The thinnest margin: MotoGP delivers again

Mar 112019

Qatar 2019: another MotoGP spectacle worthy of the thousands of light wattage thrown at by the Losail bulbs. The stories flowed: just over half a second splitting the top five in the premier class at the finale of three extremely tight and entertaining races, Cal Crutchlow burying his injury pain with another trophy, Lorenzo Baldassarri conquering Moto2, Valentino Rossi emerging from mid-grid obscurity and the ‘MotoGP rookies’ making their presence felt.

The weekend was initially coated with a blue and black blur as Monster Energy Yamaha’s Maverick Viñales produced a stunning lap to take Pole Position. The young Spaniard would suffer with a mediocre start and then a compromise in adapting the Yamaha to the style needed for a dogfight as half the pack ran within a startling ten second bracket: it was like the mania of Moto3. While #12 could not interrupt the tense scrap for victory that saw LCR Honda’s Crutchlow in the hunt (despite lack of optimum off-season testing and a right ankle he could barely use to brake and replace on the RCV footpeg) his teammate Valentino Rossi produced a typically resurgent performance.

The Doctor looked confused by the lack of front-end grip that blunted his potential for the 22 lap race on Sunday, but, as ever the 40 year old found something when the red light disappeared. It was firmly #BeastModeOn for VR as he pushed and pulled through the top ten and was ultimately just 0.6 of a second from first place as the quintet powered towards the dusty finish line in Losail.

“I am happy because it was a good race,” he said, kinda relieved. “I feel good with the bike today and I enjoyed it coming from the back so it is not so bad. The problem is my feeling is that we are more or less like last year. I arrived in fifth place which is good, especially being 0.6s from the victory. But in this track we are always good so we have to keep working because in some other places we could have some more problems. We will take this result, the podium, I tried for it but I was not strong enough.”

Spanish duo Alex Rins and Joan Mir (the latter the outstanding rookie in 8th) showed the competitiveness of the Suzukis by playing prominent roles in the cast list and the ‘official’ Rookie of 2018 - Franco Morbidelli - was also solid in 11th despite fluffing his lines at the start. A shame that early race contact for Moto2 world champ Pecco Bagnaia ruined his MotoGP debut. A piece of the Italian’s Ducati fairing was snapped off and caused him to run off the track three times before he was forced into the pitlane.


‘Balda’ was the main man in Moto2. The Italian, who within a whisker of the win twelve months earlier, was again a controlling force. He was pushed all the way by veteran Thomas Luthi and the margin of success could not have been closer at 0.026 of a second.


The show will drift west in the coming weeks. The Grand Prix of Argentina has been home to some memorable scrapes in recent years and particular stage of Termas de Rio Hondo will bank on the passion and demands of the fans once more.