A Night in the Desert…

…well, that is what it should have been, but then it rained?

It’s been a few days now since the first MotoGP of the season which took place under lights in Qatar. I am only writing about it now because it’s taken me this long just to gather my thoughts after what was one of the best opening rounds to a season I have ever seen for the MotoGP race.

The Moto3 race for me was dominated by the result of Darryn Binder who made up 15 places to finish 13th, after starting 27th on the grid. Now, this may or may not be because I am biased. Darryn is one of the Binder brothers and a rider I am following closely being that he is South African. Bias aside, I do feel his performance went largely unnoticed and under appreciated. I am here to say, well done Darryn! That was a beast of a performance and one I am sure he is proud of, fighting it out with Nicolo Bulega and Enea Bastianini for most of the race.

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Darryn in the desert.

The race, as expected in Moto3 was thrilling. Out front a large pack of riders fighting it out for the podium and the win. In the end it would be Joan Mir who took the win, closely followed by John Mcphee in 2nd and Jorge Martin in 3rd. John Mcphee certainly outdoing expectations on the new British Talent Team Honda, while Jorge Martin converted his pole position start in to a podium for the Gresini Honda team. It is going to be one heck of a difficult championship to call. That race finish order could literally be reversed from 1st to 15th for the next race. The likes of Nicolo Bulega, Enea Bastianini and Bo Bendsneyder finishing outside the top 10. Keep your eye on Moto3, it is going to be a stunner of a season I’m sure!

Moto2 was not as exciting as I would have hoped. It seems this season could be much closer than previous seasons, however the race did not pan out that way. Franco Morbidelli looked like he was a class above the rest. It was a Zarco Moto2 type performance. He led from early on and just pulled further and further away. Behind him he left the likes of Thomas Luthi, Takaaki Nakagami and Alex Marquez in his desert dust. Morbidelli would take the win. Luthi in 2nd and Nakagami 3rd.

Besides for Morbidelli’s unbelievable performance, the new KTM’s performance is something to take from the race. Miquel Oliveira, bringing the new steel trellis framed machine home in 4th. It looked impressive, certainly a good outlook for the KTM boys going in to the rest of the season. Brad Binder finished his first Moto2 race in 20th. The misfortune of the cancelled qualifying affecting his performance greatly having to start from 22nd. Never mind that he is still learning the bike and dealing with his right arm recovery.

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Morbidelli dominates Moto2.

What about Fabio Quartararo!? 17 years old, first Moto2 race, after a season to forget in Moto3 last year, and now a 7th place finish! What a ride from the new Pons team rider, dueling it out with a more experienced Moto2 rider in Luca Marini.

Then, the big one! The moment we had all been waiting for. The moment that was rather abruptly halted when qualifying was cancelled. After months and months of waiting, I was ready! Video Pass, check, Drink in hand, I was ready to watch the 2017 season begin…or not.

On to Sunday then. The Moto3 and Moto2 race passing smoothly. Then as soon as the MotoGP bikes headed on their warm up lap. Rain in parts of the circuit causing many riders to head off track, om to the run off areas at turn 14. After a delay and a bit of commotion on the grid, they were ready again. This time a two lap warm up.

The red flag then dropped and the lights went out. They were finally off. A great start by Andrea Iannone saw him get the hole shot, showing the pace the new Suzuki has.

But it was all about Johann Zarco on the Tech 3 Yamaha for the first 6 laps. Zarco stunning the rest of the MotoGP grid with a 1.6 second lead over Dovizioso, Iannone and Marquez. It was over all too soon though as he came off on Lap 6, pushing a little too hard. He certainly showed what he is capable of though.

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Zarco learning the hard way.

It wasn’t a great night for Cal Crutchlow who suffered two crashes, and would not finish the race. It was unfortunately also another year and another crash on the first night for Andrea Iannone. The Italian, who has looked impressive on his new Suzuki, falling back in to old habits. An almost identical crash to the one he suffered last year in Qatar, saw his challenge end prematurely.

From there on out it was all about Maverick Vinales. The Spaniard almost looked out of it after the first few laps, falling far behind the lead group. It may have been tactical as he and Rossi fought their way back in to the race, and losing Marquez in the process, who just could not run the pace on his tyre selection.

Mavericks duel with Dovizioso was one of the absolute best I have ever seen! Even Rossi seemed impressed at the end with the pace of the two. It would be Vinales who would come out on top, Dovizioso 2nd and Rossi an impressive 3rd.

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Vinales takes victory.

Honestly, that race to me was brilliant, if that is anything to go by, this season, like last season, will be one to remember. Just the look of the top 10 was great. So many riders, riding brilliant races. Scott Redding 7th, Jack Miller 8th, Alex Rins 9th and Jonas Folger 10th.

I really hope this season throws up more results like this. It’s great to see and awesome to watch! Special mention goes to Aleix Espargaro as he rode a quite astonishing race, fighting it out with Dani Pedrosa for 5th. He would finish 6th.

Now I remember why I am always in such anticipation for the MotoGP season. It really is the best sport for me, I was gritting my teeth the whole time. Brilliant racing! Question is, can Maverick keep it up? Can he take it all the way to the title? Marquez certainly has a battle on his hands. A battle of Rossi, Biaggi or Rossi, Stoner proportions?

My word on the opening races of the 2017 MotoGP season.

Picture credits: (World Wide Race Team Facebook page, Franco Morbidelli official Facebook page, Everything MotoGP Facebook page and MotoGP Facebook page.)

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