Before the start, on the starting grid, Francesco Bagnaia said in a calm and tranquil voice: “We’re taking a gamble with a tyre choice different than the others, but we are sure about what we are doing.”
And so it was: “Pecco” started from the third spot on the grid and braked late – hurling his VR46 Kalex into the lead – and an irresistible dance ensued, making a spectacular, yet clean ride. The hard Dunlops held out, just as he and the team and predicted, until Baldassarri arrived.
In fact, on the last lap, Francesco and Lorenzo found themselves in a battle for the win. After an initial successful pass, the team Pons rider yielded space to number 42, who exploited and won his first Moto2 Grand Prix race: “It was a very long race – Pecco recounted – I had to push from the start and resist in the finale. I did it and I am truly happy, especially for the overall standings.”
After a record pole position, Alex Marquez’s “Italian nightmare” continues. After playing second fiddle to Morbidelli all last year, today he had to settle for third, leaving the glory to the two wild Italians, partially conditioned by a problem with his rear brake which turned incandescent orange after running long on a braking section.
Just metres behind the Catalan was Mattia Pasini, who settled for a fourth place finish. Between the Italtrans rider and Luca Marini’s ninth place – making a strong comeback ride – the KTM machines ridden by Binder and Oliveira crossed the line ahead of German Marcel Schrotter and Xavi Vierge, all battling for fifth.
Moto3 champion Joan Mir finished his début race in the category eleventh ahead of specialists the likes of Barbera – making his return from MotoGP – Simone Corsi and Dominique Aegerter.
In the opening laps, Romano Fenati was in the points zone, but then he lost speed and consistency until sliding back to a twenty-fourth place finish between Pawi and Joe Roberts. Sam Lowes’ return was not so good – in fact, it was pretty bad: a crash in the sand spelled an end to his Grand Prix race in Qatar.
Rider standings: Bagnaia 25, Baldassarri 20, Alex Marquex 16.