Another exciting race under the Lusail floodlights as almost every lap of the 22-lap Qatar Grand Prix saw a flurry of hard passes up and down the grid that saw Fabio Di Giannantonio win
Ducati rider Fabio Di Giannantonio has won the Qatar MotoGP as Jorge Martin suffered a disastrous race and huge points to Francesco Bagnaia.
Francesco Bagnaia has extended his MotoGP world championship lead to 21 points despite Fabio Di Giannantonio’s late pass for victory in the Qatar Grand Prix.
Bagnaia led for most of the 22-lap contest around the Lusail International Circuit but finished almost three seconds behind first-time winner Di Giannantonio in second place after his bid to reclaim top spot on the night nearly ended in disaster.
Third place went to Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) as the number 10 got his elbows out in the fight at the front and then found enough in the locker to hold off a charge from Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) over the final few laps.
It was something of a disaster for title rival Jorge Martin, who could only muster 10th and now faces an uphill battle to win the world championship with one round remaining in 2023.
As the lights went out, everything changed in an instant. Split by just 0.022 and one position on the grid, by the exit of Turn 1 Bagnaia had shot through to steal the holeshot from Marini as Martin suffered a difficult start and dropped back to eight, behind teammate Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing). Not long after that the team showed the Frenchman who was behind him too, and he either had a moment and dropped back or heeded a message and let Martin through. With the added complication of Viñales glued to the rear wheel of the number 89 and getting past as well.
Right at the front though, Bagnaia held firm with a few tenths in hand – ahead of quite a squabble too. Di Giannantonioa got through on Marini And Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) tried to follow suit, but had to wait a few corners before he got through. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) needed no invitation to slice past the number 10 either, before also attacking Alex Marquez. Unhindered by the battle, Bagnaia marched on. And so did Di Giannantonio – able to unleash his pace and start to reel in the Ducati Lenovo machine ahead.
Martin had his hands full too. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was right on his tail and Viñales right behind the number 93 too, with Zarco watching on and Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) catching the group as well.
At the front, Bagnaia and Di Giannantonio still had Binder for company, but the gap would start to increase from there on out as the KTM was left to battle Alex Marquez and Marini instead. The gaps behind Martin, however, were even smaller as a queue was forming behind the number 89.
Viñales was the first mover in the group to get past Marc Marquez and then stalk Martin before making a move. Once past, the Aprilia was gone. The Repsol Honda then attacked and took over before heading wide, letting Martin and Quartararo back through. El Diablo wasted no time in then dispatching Martin, leaving Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) next up as the number 89 was down to eighth again. Miller was through with 10 to go, and next up was Zarco. What would the Frenchman do?
The battle for victory, however, was now a duel: Bagnaia vs Di Giannantonio. The laps ticked down and the gap went out to a few tenths then back down, but no move was made in a tense game of chess. Lap by lap, the two marched on round Lusail. Plenty of moves were made in the podium fight though as Viñales arrived at Binder, Alex Marquez and Marini, with too many headlines to choose as the elbows came out.
By five to go, “Mapping 8” appeared on Di Giannantonio’s dashboard, before “0000000” appeared on his pit board. Everyone was left wondering what that exactly meant. Regardless, as Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team) also made his way through on Martin, more points in the title fight were on the line at the front as Di Giannantonio decided to make his move.
It was a pretty perfect one at that, squeezing through at Turn 12. And Bagnaia tried to reply on the cutback but Di Giannantonio shut the door. From there they headed round the final sector and then corner before blasting onto the main straight, and then hearts went into mouths in the Ducati Lenovo box.
Bagnaia tucked in and gained down the straight before pulling out to try and take the lead back – and couldn’t get it stopped. He managed to pull up enough to avoid clattering into the Gresini and headed into the run off, then able to scrub off the speed and rejoin in second. Own goal avoided for the Championship leader, but that was that if Di Giannantonio could do three more clean laps of Lusail. And he could!
Crossing the line with 2.7 seconds in hand, the Italian becomes the eighth different winner of the season and takes an emotional maiden MotoGP™victory. Bagnaia takes those 20 points to extend the gap to 21 over Martin, with the Spaniard crossing the line in tenth after a dramatic weekend of contact in the Tissot Sprint, a little glory and disappointment for both riders, everything on the line… and the title fight definitively to be decided in the final round.
Marini completed the podium as he pulled enough out late on to stay out of range of Viñales, with the Aprilia rider still charging up to fourth. Fifth went to Binder, ahead of Alex Marquez and Quartararo, who got extremely close to that fight in the final laps. Bastianini also charged up the order, setting a scorcher late on and finishing eighth ahead of Miller.
Behind Martin, a final frisson of stress hovered in the form of Marc Marquez over the final lap, but the number 93 couldn’t find a way through. Zarco, right behind both the number 93 and his own teammate Martin, tried a move though – and made some contact with Marquez, the Honda staying up but Zaroc barely, dropping back a few seconds to take P12 only tenths ahead of Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team). Joan Mir (Repsol Honda Team) and Rookie of the Year Augusto Fernandez (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3) completed the points.
And so the curtain falls in Qatar for 2023, after a weekend of two halves for the title contenders and a little chapter of awesome history made for Di Giannantonio. Now, it’s truly all or nothing in Valencia. Bagnaia leads by 21 points. 37 more are on the table… and the gloves will be off.
Join us for the Grand Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana next weekend – there will be fireworks!
Qatar Grand Prix Results
|1||Di Giannantonio Fabio||49||ITA||25||Team Gresini Racing MotoGP||Ducati||41’43.654|
|2||Bagnaia Francesco||1||ITA||20||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati||2.734|
|3||Marini Luca||10||ITA||16||Mooney VR46 Racing Team||Ducati||4.408|
|4||Vinales Maverick||12||SPA||13||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia||4.488|
|5||Binder Brad||33||RSA||11||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||7.246|
|6||Marquez Alex||73||SPA||10||Team Gresini Racing MotoGP||Ducati||7.620|
|7||Quartararo Fabio||20||FRA||9||Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||7.828|
|8||Bastianini Enea||23||ITA||8||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati||8.239|
|9||Miller Jack||43||AUS||7||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||11.509|
|10||Martin Jorge||89||SPA||6||Pramac Racing||Ducati||14.819|
|11||Marquez Marc||93||SPA||5||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||14.964|
|12||Zarco Johann||5||FRA||4||Pramac Racing||Ducati||17.431|
|13||Bezzecchi Marco||72||ITA||3||Mooney VR46 Racing Team||Ducati||17.807|
|14||Mir Joan||36||SPA||2||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||18.673|
|15||Fernandez Augusto||37||SPA||1||Tech3 GASGAS Factory Racing||KTM||21.455|
|16||Morbidelli Franco||21||ITA||0||Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||21.474|
|17||Fernandez Raul||25||SPA||0||RNF MotoGP Team||Aprilia||22.142|
|18||Espargaro Pol||44||SPA||0||Tech3 GASGAS Factory Racing||KTM||27.194|
|19||Nakagami Takaaki||30||JPN||0||LCR Honda||Honda||27.740|
|20||Espargaro Aleix||41||SPA||DNF||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia||DNF|
|21||Lecuona Iker||27||SPA||DNF||LCR Honda||Honda||DNF|
|1||Bagnaia Francesco||1||ITA||437||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati|
|2||Martin Jorge||89||SPA||416||Pramac Racing||Ducati|
|3||Bezzecchi Marco||72||ITA||326||Mooney VR46 Racing Team||Ducati|
|4||Binder Brad||33||RSA||268||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM|
|5||Zarco Johann||5||FRA||204||Pramac Racing||Ducati|
|6||Espargaro Aleix||41||SPA||198||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia|
|7||Marini Luca||10||ITA||194||Mooney VR46 Racing Team||Ducati|
|8||Vinales Maverick||12||SPA||192||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia|
|9||Quartararo Fabio||20||FRA||167||Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha|
|10||Marquez Alex||73||SPA||165||Team Gresini Racing MotoGP||Ducati|
|11||Miller Jack||43||AUS||163||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM|
|12||Di Giannantonio Fabio||49||ITA||134||Team Gresini Racing MotoGP||Ducati|
|13||Morbidelli Franco||21||ITA||93||Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha|
|14||Marquez Marc||93||SPA||89||Repsol Honda Team||Honda|
|15||Bastianini Enea||23||ITA||84||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati|
|16||Oliveira Miguel||88||POR||76||RNF MotoGP Team||Aprilia|
|17||Fernandez Augusto||37||SPA||71||Tech3 GASGAS Factory Racing||KTM|
|18||Rins Alex||42||SPA||54||LCR Honda||Honda|
|19||Nakagami Takaaki||30||JPN||52||LCR Honda||Honda|
|20||Fernandez Raul||25||SPA||40||RNF MotoGP Team||Aprilia|
|21||Pedrosa Dani||26||SPA||32||KTM Test Team||KTM|
|22||Mir Joan||36||SPA||26||Repsol Honda Team||Honda|
|23||Espargaro Pol||44||SPA||13||Tech3 GASGAS Factory Racing||KTM|
|24||Savadori Lorenzo||32||ITA||9||RNF MotoGP Team||Aprilia|
|25||Folger Jonas||94||GER||9||Tech3 GASGAS Factory Racing||KTM|
|26||Bradl Stefan||6||GER||8||Repsol Honda Team||Honda|
|27||Petrucci Danilo||9||ITA||5||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati|
|28||Pirro Michele||51||ITA||5||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati|
|29||Crutchlow Cal||35||GBR||3||Yamaha Test Team||Yamaha|