Qatar MotoGP: Vinales beats Ducati quartet to claim victory

Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales ended Ducati’s Qatar Grand Prix stranglehold with a stunning victory in the 2021 MotoGP opener as world champion Joan Mir was denied a podium on the line.

Qatar MotoGP: Vinales beats Ducati quartet to claim victory

Ducati has won the previous two Qatar GPs courtesy of Andrea Dovizioso, but Vinales ended that run after battling his way through the Desmosedicis after a slow start.

Poleman Francesco Bagnaia led a Ducati charge off the line, as team-mate Jack Miller, Pramac’s Johann Zarco and his rookie team-mate Jorge Martin from 14th on the grid blitzed the Yamahas into Turn 1.

Martin and Zarco engaged over third, with the Frenchman holding firm at Turn 6 while pre-race favourite Franco Morbidelli plummeted to 20th from seventh on the grid.

The Yamaha trio of Vinales, Fabio Quartararo and SRT’s Valentino Rossi regrouped later on the opening lap, with Quartararo leading them back to fifth.

The Frenchman would get ahead of Martin at Turn 6 on the third lap, with Vinales following him through at Turn 10.

Bagnaia’s lead over Zarco stood at seven tenths, while Quartararo’s charge behind continued as he got ahead of Miller at Turn 15 on lap six and shut the door on the Ducati rider on the run into Turn 1.

Vinales would follow his team-mate through two tours later, with the Spaniard taking third from Quartararo on lap 11.

Maverick Vinales, Yamaha Factory Racing

Maverick Vinales, Yamaha Factory Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Zarco could do nothing to stop Vinales’ charge a lap later at Turn 10, with the strong headwind on Sunday stopping the Ducatis from utilising their horsepower advantage over the rest.

Vinales launched a raid on Bagnaia’s lead on lap 14 at Turn 10, but the Ducati would not yield and the pair came close to contact as they ran side-by-side through Turn 11.

The Yamaha rider got the job done a lap later at the same place and immediately pulled out a lead of over half a second as the Ducati riders ran into grip troubles.

Vinales’ charge at the front was relentless, his lead as large as 1.6s as he started the penultimate lap.

He came under no threat across the final lap to score his ninth career MotoGP victory and take an early lead in the championship.

Suzuki’s Mir came through from 10th on the grid to grab second from Zarco at Turn 15 on the final lap.

But the world champion ran wide at the last corner and allowed both Zarco and Bagnaia back through on the run to the chequered flag to demote him to fourth.

Quartararo made a late rally after being pushed down the order to end his first race as a factory Yamaha rider in fifth, with Alex Rins’ podium charge on the sister Suzuki ultimately ending in sixth.

Aleix Espargaro was seventh on the Aprilia ahead of brother Pol on his factory Honda debut, while Miller faded to ninth ahead of top rookie Enea Bastianini on the Avintia Ducati.

Rossi couldn’t convert a strong fourth in qualifying to his 200th MotoGP podium on his SRT debut, the nine-time grand prix world champion an average 12th behind Honda’s Stefan Bradl.

Valentino Rossi, Petronas Yamaha SRT

Valentino Rossi, Petronas Yamaha SRT

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Miguel Oliveira headed KTM team-mate Brad Binder in 13th, while Martin faded to 15th in the end following his rapid start to the race.

Morbidelli’s woes persisted throughout, the 2020 championship runner-up taking the chequered flag in 18th behind Tech3’s Iker Lecuona, Avintia rookie Luca Marini and ahead of Aprilia’s Lorenzo Savadori.

Tech3’s Danilo Petrucci crashed out on the opening lap, with LCR duo Takaaki Nakagami and Alex Marquez joining him on the sidelines through separate tumbles.

MotoGP Qatar Grand Prix results

Cla Rider Bike Time Gap Interval
1 Spain Maverick Viñales Yamaha      
2 France Johann Zarco Ducati 1.092    
3 Italy Francesco Bagnaia Ducati 1.129    
4 Spain Joan Mir Suzuki 1.222    
5 France Fabio Quartararo Yamaha 3.030    
6 Spain Alex Rins Suzuki 3.357    
7 Spain Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 5.934    
8 Spain Pol Espargaro Honda 5.990    
9 Australia Jack Miller Ducati 7.058    
10 Italy Enea Bastianini Ducati 9.288    
shares
comments

Related video

Dovizioso's manager doubts MotoGP race return with Aprilia in 2021

Previous article

Dovizioso's manager doubts MotoGP race return with Aprilia in 2021

Next article

Vinales feels “Yamaha is back” after Qatar MotoGP win

Vinales feels “Yamaha is back” after Qatar MotoGP win
Load comments
Why Suzuki desperately needs to find Brivio's MotoGP replacement Plus

Why Suzuki desperately needs to find Brivio's MotoGP replacement

OPINION: While Shinichi Sahara insists that Suzuki does not need a team manager following the departure of Davide Brivio, the team's performance in the early part of the 2021 MotoGP season and the sentiment of the staff suggests the opposite

How KTM has ended up with an embarrassment of MotoGP riches Plus

How KTM has ended up with an embarrassment of MotoGP riches

Forming a ladder all the way from Red Bull Rookies Cup to MotoGP, KTM has created a steady stream of top talents in grand prix racing delivering the Austrian marque with the success expected of the brand. Here's how it has gone about it

MotoGP
Jul 28, 2021
Why MotoGP will miss its gentle giant Plus

Why MotoGP will miss its gentle giant

Danilo Petrucci’s days in MotoGP appear numbered, as KTM looks to completely reshuffle the Tech3 team for 2022. Though the Italian's 2021 season so far hasn’t been standout, the giant Italian covertly became a top runner in MotoGP across the last decade and brought with him a personality that world sport sorely needs more of

MotoGP
Jul 22, 2021
Why Mir's MotoGP title defence can’t be written off yet Plus

Why Mir's MotoGP title defence can’t be written off yet

Joan Mir’s defence of his MotoGP title has had an underwhelming start as Suzuki didn’t progress its championship-winning GSX-RR as much as its rivals did with their bikes over the winter. Speaking to Autosport, Mir lays out why his title defence has been stalled so far and why he’s confident title number two is still within reach

MotoGP
Jul 12, 2021
The Rossi replacement who’s become the MotoGP leader Yamaha needed Plus

The Rossi replacement who’s become the MotoGP leader Yamaha needed

It's been six years since Jorge Lorenzo gave Yamaha its last MotoGP title in 2015. Since his departure at the end of 2016, Yamaha's form has been inconsistent but it has at last found a new talisman to return it to the top spot in the form of a precociously talented Frenchman who currently leads the standings

MotoGP
Jul 6, 2021
Why the Vinales/Yamaha MotoGP divorce satisfies both parties Plus

Why the Vinales/Yamaha MotoGP divorce satisfies both parties

On Monday Yamaha announced it will part ways with Maverick Vinales at the end of the 2021 season - a move requested by the rider. As the already strained relationship between both parties in MotoGP hit rock bottom in recent weeks, this divorce - as ORIOL PUIGDEMONT writes - is good for both Yamaha and Vinales for a number of reasons

MotoGP
Jun 28, 2021
The unexpected Rossi/Ducati MotoGP sequel offering redemption Plus

The unexpected Rossi/Ducati MotoGP sequel offering redemption

A decade after first linking up with Ducati in what turned out to be an ill-fated period in his MotoGP career, Valentino Rossi has joined forces with the Italian marque once more - this time as a team owner. And the VR46/Ducati tie-up beginning in 2022 has the potential to right the wrongs of Rossi and Ducati's nadir of 2011/2012

MotoGP
Jun 24, 2021
Why Yamaha is about to risk losing Valentino Rossi Plus

Why Yamaha is about to risk losing Valentino Rossi

With Valentino Rossi’s next career move imminent in MotoGP, it is set to have wide-reaching influences on a number of riders and teams on the grid. But one of the biggest impacts will be felt at Yamaha, with its pivotal role in the saga set to see it lose its appointment with ‘The Doctor’

MotoGP
Jun 22, 2021