After a commanding Tissot sprint victory on Saturday, Jorge Martin faced tyre issues and only managed 10th place on Sunday.
A thrilling MotoGP race under the floodlights in Qatar saw an ebullient Fabio Di Giannantonio take his first-ever MotoGP victory. Rounding out an all-Italian podium were Ducati Lenovo’s Francesco Bagnaia, who increased his championship lead, and Mooney VR46 Racing’s Luca Marini, who is strongly tipped to default to Repsol Honda next year.
- Martin struggles to 10th place, blames tyre issue
- Bagnaia’s championship lead grows to 21 points
- 37 points up for grabs at the final round in Valencia
Di Giannantonio-Bagnaia battle nearly ends in tears
Championship leader Francesco Bagnaia only managed fifth place in qualifying, but rocketed off the line to get the holeshot into turn one. Behind him, three other Ducatis jostled for the position – Marini and the Gresini racing pair of Di Giannantonio and Alex Marquez. Di Giannantonio emerged as the quickest of the chasers, and found himself glued to Bagnaia’s rear tyre for much of the race.
Had he been given a contract renewal for next year, Di Giannantonio may well have refrained from attacking Ducati’s star rider and championship hopeful. But seeing as how he’s currently unemployed for next year, the outgoing Gresini rider made a brave move to get past Bagnaia on lap 19. What followed was a hair-raising moment as Bagnaia got sucked into Di Giannantonio’s slip-stream braking from 350kph into turn one. The championship leader nearly ran into the back of his countryman, only narrowly avoiding contact, and running wide into the tarmac run-off area. Fortunately, with a 5-second gap behind him, Bagnaia was able to rejoin in second place, where he finished the race.
Jorge Martin sees championship hopes fade away
After a successful outing in Saturday’s Tissot Sprint sprint where he halved his points deficit to championship leader Francesco Bagnaia, Prima Pramac Racing’s Jorge Martin had a disastrous Qatar GP on Sunday, only managing 10th place. The Spaniard blamed his poor performance on a tyre issue – he had massive wheelspin at the race start, and seemed to struggle for rear grip throughout the GP, even looking back at his rear tyre immediately after crossing the chequered flag. The Ducati man was vocal about the issue in his post-race debriefs, saying that the tyre felt “like a stone” from the start, and he felt like the championship had been “stolen” from him.
With his 10th place finish giving him just 6 points, and Bagnaia picking up 20 points for his second place finish, the gap at the top of the standings grows to 21 points, with 37 points still up for grabs at the final round in Valencia this weekend. After Sunday’s result, Bagnaia has one hand already on the championship trophy – the Italian can afford to finish both races (the sprint and the main race) in fifth place and still be assured the championship victory. If this were to happen with Martin winning both races, the pair would end up equal on points, with the title going to Bagnaia by virtue of his greater number of race wins over the season.