Qatar Motorcycle Grand Prix
Márquez makes the podium, Morbidelli takes the points The riders of the Team Marc VDS rode to success in Qatar. Álex Márquez made it to the first Moto2 podium of the season and Franco Morbidelli scored points for his first MotoGP.
After signing his first pole position of the season, Álex Márquez had no other aim than to win on the Losail circuit. The Spaniard unfortunately had a rear brake problem just as he was preparing to overtake the race leader, Francesco Bagnaia. “I thought my engine was stalling but when I turned around I saw that my rear brake disc was glowing,“ says Márquez. By the time it freed and I picked up speed again without a back brake, Bagnaia and Baldassari had gone. Finishing third in those conditions was not a bad result to start the season.” Badly placed on the starting grid, Joan Mir drew attention for his debut in Moto2. The reigning Moto3 world champion finished eleventh after struggling for a long time to be placed in the top ten. In MotoGP, Franco Morbidelli won the place of first rookie. The Italian finished twelfth, only 12 seconds behind the winner. “It’s better than I expected,” he said. Due to two small braking errors, Tom Lüthi fell just short of scoring any points, in sixteenth position.
At the start of the new season, Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS can be proud that its four riders all scored points. Márquez and Mir left Qatar in third and eleventh place of the Moto2 championship, while Morbidelli started his first MotoGP season by taking twelfth position.
Arriving on the MotoGP calendar in 2004, the Qatar Motorcycle Grand Prix was raced in daytime for four years. Then at night between 2008 and 2017. This season, the organizers decided to change their schedules again and advanced the start of the MotoGP race by two hours, from 21:00 to 19:00. “We are in the desert, and the humidity that settles when night falls caused too much trouble for the riders,” said Franck Vayssié, the race director who officiates in Doha. Reduced to three days after being organized for four, the Qatari weekend posed other difficulties for the teams because of the very large discrepancy in temperatures between the two free practice sessions on the same day. With a difference of more than twenty degrees on the ground, it was difficult indeed for the technicians and riders to be consistent in their work. “Basically, the FP1, the FP3 and the warm-up are useless because the conditions have nothing in common with those of the race,” says Gilles Bigot, Tom Lüthi’s chief mechanic. “But it’s complicated if you want to organize a race in the evening in a country like Qatar.”