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

Qatar Moto2: Pol Espargaro beats Scott Redding in thrilling opener

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


     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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