Qatar Moto2: Pol Espargaro beats Scott Redding in thrilling opener
Pol Espargaro resisted enormous pressure from a dogged Scott Redding to win the Moto2 season-opener in Qatar
Redding tried desperately to claim his maiden Moto2 win, but despite his pace in the Losail track's twisty sections, Espargaro's straightline speed advantage helped keep the title favourite's Pons Kalex ahead.
Takaaki Nakagami had jumped polesitter Espargaro off the line and pulled out an early one-second lead.
Espargaro and Redding left the rest of the field behind in second and third, swapping places on lap four.
Redding hunted down Nakagami and slipped ahead four laps later, with Espargaro following time next past.
Espargaro made his move five laps from the end, drafting past Marc VDS rider Redding into the first corner.
Redding had no intention of letting the Spaniard get away, clinging to his rear for the rest of the race.
The Briton inched alongside at Turn 10 on the final lap, but had to back out of the move to avoid contact.
He rallied one more time to catch Espargaro again, before finally conceding defeat with a small slide into the final corners.
Nakagami claimed his maiden grand prix podium in a lonely third.
Dominique Aegerter slipped to the front of an astonishing 11-bike scrap to claim fourth, inches ahead of Mika Kallio and Julian Simon.
Ricky Cardus will be checked for lumbar and foot injuries after a mid-race crash. It was a tough race for his Forward team, as Mattia Pasini's wild weekend ended when he was taken out by Mike di Meglio.
Inaugural Moto2 champion Toni Elias was only 15th.
2012 Moto3 combatants Sandro Cortese and Danny Kent reprised their spectacular rivalry in the next class up, before Cortese claimed rookie honours in 17th.
Results - 20 laps: Pos Rider Team/Bike Time/Gap 1. Pol Espargaro Pons Kalex 40m31.782s 2. Scott Redding Marc VDS Kalex + 0.844s 3. Takaaki Nakagami Italtrans Kalex + 12.098s 4. Dominique Aegerter Technomag Suter + 18.910s 5. Mika Kallio Marc VDS Kalex + 18.933s 6. Julian Simon Italtrans Kalex + 19.018s 7. Simone Corsi Forward Speed Up + 19.230s 8. Alex de Angelis Forward Speed Up + 19.452s 9. Esteve Rabat Pons Kalex + 20.219s 10. Xavier Simeon SAG Kalex + 20.972s 11. Jordi Torres Aspar Suter + 21.674s 12. Johann Zarco Ioda Suter + 22.084s 13. Marcel Schrotter SAG Kalex + 22.093s 14. Nicolas Terol Aspar Suter + 22.496s 15. Toni Elias Avintia Kalex + 36.677s 16. Mike di Meglio JIR Motobi + 36.697s 17. Sandro Cortese Intact Kalex + 41.857s 18. Danny Kent Tech 3 + 45.295s 19. Randy Krummenacher Technomag Suter + 47.673s 20. Sergio Gadea Paddock Suter + 54.197s 21. Kyle Smith Avintia Kalex + 59.245s 22. Steven Odendaal Arginano Speed Up + 1m02.713s 23. Yuki Takahashi Tady Moriwaki + 1m04.294s 24. Doni Tata Pradita Gresini Suter + 1m14.017s 25. Alberto Moncayo Arginano Speed Up + 1m37.009s 26. Rafid Topan Sucipto QMMF Speed Up + 1 lap Retirements: Ratthapark Wilairot Gresini Suter 15 laps Ricard Cardus Forward Speed Up 8 laps Mattia Pasini Forward Speed Up 8 laps Anthony West QMMF Speed Up 7 laps Axel Pons Pons Kalex 3 laps Louis Rossi Tech 3 3 laps
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