Magnificent Martin wins Qatar Grand Prix Sprint

Magnificent Martin wins Qatar Grand Prix Sprint

The Peninsula

Doha, Qatar: Ahead of the Qatar Airways Grand Prix of Qatar, Jorge Martin said he is completely focused on the new season, leaving behind the disappointment of Valencia finale where the world title slipped from his hands in the very last laps.

So far, the Pramac Racing rider has been relishing a fabulous opening week as he aims for the maiden world crown at the 21-race championship, marking the MotoGP’s 75th anniversary.

On Friday, he topped the combined Free Practice standings and then set up a new lap record on his way to topping yesterday’s qualifying, before clinching a controlled victory in the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix Sprint under floodlights at the Lusail International Circuit.

Starting from the pole, the Spaniard led the 11-lap sprint from start to finish, fending off constant pressure from Red Bull KTM’s Brad Binder to open his account with a victory – his second straight sprint win in Qatar.

Finishing third was Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro, who sealed first podium for his team in Qatar after rallying past reigning double world champion Francesco Bagnaia in the final lap. Six-time MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez finished fifth on his Gresini Ducati debut.

Pertamina Enduro VR46 Racing Team’s Fabio Di Giannantonio, who clinched victory in the Grand Prix of Qatar last year, had an early end to his race after taking a thumping fall on lap two.

While Martin’s victory yesterday appeared smooth, he later said it would be impossible to repeat his performance in tonight’s 22-lap Qatar GP due to persistent chatter problems.

“I was fast, but the rear chatter is still there. So, we need to work on it,” said Martin, who took pole position with a time of 1:50.789, earlier yesterday.

“I think today I was really close to crashing in a lot of corners. So, I was struggling a lot. Today we achieved it [the win], but for sure tomorrow if we keep like this [the chatter problem] it will be impossible. So, let’s work on it. I feel confident, I feel fast. The only thing is the bike, so we’re going to work on it tonight and let’s see if we can enjoy a big one,” he added.

Binder, who started in the second row with Bagnaia, was happy with second place in first sprint of the year.

“It was great today. It’s always special to finish on the podium particularly when it’s first race of the season. The pace was really fast, especially the first three laps today and I am really impressed with the bike,” the KTM rider said.

Starting from the front row, Espargaro, slipped to fifth at one point but his persistence in the final stages helped him take the third place.

“I tried my best. We need to improve a little bit in the straight because it’s easy for them to overtake me. But the speed during the circuit is amazing and I am very happy as the level of the bike is extremely high,” said the Spaniard.

After missing the podium, defending champion Bagnaia would look to score his first win of the season tonight to overcome Martin’s tally of 12 points after earning six points for a fourth finish.

While a late mistake cost Marquez, he did well to keep Enea Bastianini at bay with the Ducati rider finishing sixth followed by Alex Marquez, on the Gresini-run bike.

MotoGP debutant Pedro Acosta scored two points after securing eighth spot while Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales took the last point in ninth position with KTM’s Jack Miller rounding off the top 10.

The season-opening Grand Prix of Qatar will kick off at 8pm.

Meanwhile, in the exhilarating Moto2 qualification, Spanish rider Aron Canet from Fantic Racing clinched the top spot in a tight competition, narrowly coming ahead of Alonso Lopez from Sync SpeedUp. Canet set a lap time of 1 minute 56.788 seconds, just a fraction ahead of Lopez’s time of 1 minute 56.890 seconds. Albert Arenas from QJMOTOR Gresini Moto2 finished third with an impressive lap time of 1 minute 57.025 seconds.

In the Moto3 qualification rounds, riders engaged in a closely contested battle. Daniel Holgado from Red Bull GASGAS Tech3 emerged as the leader, clocking an impressive lap time of 2 minutes 02.276 seconds.

Following closely behind, Ivan Ortola (MT Helmets - MSI) secured the second position with 2 minutes 02.541 seconds, with Jose Antonio Rueda (Red Bull KTM Ajo) finishing third with a tight margin at 2 minute 02.596 seconds.