Repsol Honda’s 21 year-old rider produced a gritty performance to take maximum points despite breaking his leg in the preseason and missing the last two MotoGP tests. In further drama, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo crashed out of the race lead at turn 15 on the first lap, meaning his season starts with a DNF after he had struggled with grip issues throughout the weekend.
After eight laps, the race was also over for Stefan Bradl, who had led the contest for several circulations. Indeed, Marquez and Rossi then went on to have a great fight which went down to the last lap and saw the Spaniard outpace the Italian by 0.25s – with Pedrosa three seconds back to complete the podium.
An excellent ride for Aleix Espargaro saw him take fourth on his debut for NGM Forward Racing on their ‘Open’ Yamaha. Espargaro cashed in on the crashes of Alvaro Baustista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini) and Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) as they fell out of the podium hunt. Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow did well in fifth and sixth respectively for Ducati Team, though Crutchlow finished 16 seconds behind his teammate after almost running out of fuel on his debut for the Italian factory.
A good first premier class race for Scott Redding (GO&FUN Honda Gresini) saw him beat fellow ‘Open’ Honda equipped rider Nicky Hayden (Drive M7 Aspar) to seventh by a 0.035s margin. The top ten was rounded out by Hayden’s compatriot
Colin Edwards (NGM Forward Racing), riding his first race as a 40 year-old, and Andrea Iannone (Pramac Racing) who recovered well from a fall on the last corner of lap two. A mistake from rookie Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) with five laps to go saw him drop down to 15th and then pull into pits shortly after.
Moto2: Strong ride for Rabat earns Qatar victory
Despite a difficult first lap for pole man Esteve Rabat (Marc VDS Racing Team), he produced an otherwise excellent ride in Qatar to win on the last corner.
Rabat’s teammate Mika Kallio was third in the race, though second place finisher Takaaki Nakagami (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) was later disqualified for the use of a non-regulation air filter. Rabat aims to win the title this year after emerging as a Moto2™ race winner last season and he looked threatening throughout the Qatar weekend, ultimately beating Nakagami to the line by 0.04s after they had battled for the lead for several laps. Rabat ran wide on the first lap and dropped to fifth but had too much for his closest rivals over the 20 lap contest, coming back well to take win.
His colleague Kallio will also be looking for wins in 2014 having finished a second behind the front two, eventually being moved up to second due to Nakagami’s disqualification. Three seconds behind Kallio was Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2), the Swiss rider crossing the line three tenths ahead of Moto3 World Champion Maverick Viñales (Pons HP 40) who made an excellent Moto2™ debut.
Simone Corsi (NGM Forward Racing) ran well from 10th on the grid beating debutant Sam Lowes (Speed Up) who also performed solidly in his first Grand Prix, their final results being classified as fifth and sixth. The top ten was completed by Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP), Jordi Torres (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2), Anthony West (QMMF Racing Team) and Louis Rossi (SAG Team).
A disastrous start for the AirAsia Caterham Moto Racing team saw Josh Herrin and Johann Zarco crash on the first lap, with Alex De Angelis (Tasca Racing Moto2) and Xavier Simeon (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) also involved.
Gino Rea and Mashel Al Naimi had stopped mid-race with technical problems, whilst with eight laps to go in Axel Pons and Marcel Schrotter crashed out.
Dominique Aegerter pulled off with five laps to go, smoke pouring from his exhaust, ending his 33 race run of consistent point scoring finishes. Nico Terol was also affected by mechanical problems at a similar stage of the race and he will look to bounce back next time out at the Circuit of the Americas where he won last year.
Moto3: Miller takes stunning win in opening race
Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Ajo) took a brilliant first win of his career in the first race of the year at the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar, with Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) second and Efren Vazquez (SAXOPRINT RTG) third.
Miller rode brilliantly with his new team, starting third on the grid and running at the front with Marquez from the start as pole man Alex Rins (Estrella Galicia 0,0) made a poor start and dropped to 12th. Miller and Marquez then battled for the lead but a late mistake from Marquez let the Australian in on the last lap for his first victory and first Grand Prix podium. Behind the leading pair Vazquez crossed the finishing line just 0.047s off second place to complete the podium and step onto the rostrum for the first time since 2011.
Miguel Oliveira (Mahindra Racing) was the best of the seven Mahindra equipped riders in the race, missing the podium by just 0.015s in fourth. Rins incredibly got back up towards the top three having been stranded way down the field on the first lap and he too was just a fraction behind Oliveira in fifth.
Jakub Kornfeil (Calvo Team) was also close to the front running group, eventually placing sixth, whilst a 1.5s gap, behind him the experienced Alexis Masbou (Ongetta-Rivacold) came home seventh. Isaac Viñales (Calvo Team), Niccolo Antonelli (Junior Team GO&FUN) and Francesco Bagnaia (SKY Racing Team VR46) completed the top ten.
The unlucky Jules Danilo (Ambrogio Racing) crashed on the last lap, Matteo Ferrari (San Carlo Team Italia) retired mid race after an earlier accident, whilst Hafiq Azmi (SIC-Ajo KTM) and Eric Granado (Calvo Team) crashed out early on, with Gabriel Ramos (Kiefer Racing) pulling up with a technical problem.
There were also crashes for Niklas Ajo (Avant Tecno Husqvarna Ajo) and Juanfran Guevara (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3), but all the riders were ok.