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Qatar GP: Season-opening glory for Maverick Vinales

29/03/21

Vinales starts the MotoGP™ season off strong.

Maverick Vinales got his 2021 MotoGP™ campaign up and running with a season-opening victory as he charged up from fifth at the Qatar Grand Prix.

Pole-setter Francesco Bagnaia could not get away from the chasing pack, which included Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) and his Ducati team-mate Jack Miller.

With defending world champion Joan Mir – starting in 10th – and fellow Suzuki Ecstar rider Alex Rins struggling to keep pace initially, it was Monster Yamaha's Vinales who made his move.

Finding himself in fifth with 15 laps remaining, Vinales closed the gap on Bagnaia by the time the final seven came around.

After threatening once but being held off, Vinales spotted a gap and dived through to take a lead he would not relinquish.

Bagnaia's race looked set to go from bad to worse when he dropped out of the top three altogether.

It left Zarco and Mir tussling for second, and last year's champion had the edge on the last lap yet, in a remarkable twist, he fell short on the final corner.

Mir appeared to run wide, with his exit speed dropping and allowing Zarco to clinch second – Bagnaia, who had blitzed the Losail lap record in qualifying, battling back to mark his first race for Ducati with a podium finish.

Fabio Quartararo completed the top five, with Mir's team-mate Rins finishing sixth.

There was misery for Takaaki Nakagami, who crashed out on turn nine midway through the race, with Danilo Petrucci's Tech3 KTM debut also coming to a premature end.

TOP 10
  1. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha)
  2. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +1.092
  3. Francesco Bagnai (Ducati) +1.129
  4. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) +1.222
  5. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) +3.030
  6. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) +3.357
  7. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) +5.934
  8. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda) +5.990
  9. Jack Miller (Ducati) +7.058
  10. Enea Bastianini (Esponsorama Racing) +9.288
CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
Riders
  1. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) 25
  2. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) 20
  3. Francesco Bagnai (Ducati) 16
  4. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar)13
  5. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) 11
Teams
  1. Monster Energy Yamaha 36
  2. Ducati 23
  3. Suzuki Ecstar 23
  4. Pramac Racing 21
  5. Repsol Honda 13
What's next?

The MotoGP™ convoy remains at the Losail circuit for its second Qatar race – the Grand Prix of Doha.