Estrella Galicia’s Franco Morbidelli took his debut Moto2 victory in fine style at the Qatar MotoGP, finishing 2.7s ahead of Swiss Tom Luthi after leading for almost the entire race.
"This first victory is a great sensation after all this time, it is really amazing that I confirm that I am capable of winning races. My pace was really strong and I was pulling away from the others once I got ahead of Lüthi and had a clear track, so it did not feel like a difficult race. The main thing today was to bring to the track what I had in my mind, that I could win here after such a strong preseason of testing and practice in Qatar,” said Morbidelli.
The Italian started from pole and was first into turn one with Luthi coming past in the slipstream at the end of lap two. Morbidelli waited a lap, re-took the lead and promptly cleared off with team-mate Alex Marquez in third, Taka Nakagami fourth and Xavi Vierge in fifth.
As Morbidelli vanished into the distance, Marquez found he had no answer for Luthi’s pace but went through his tyres very quickly and dropped down the order while Red Bull KTM’s Miguel Oliveira did the opposite and come through to fight with Nakagami for the final podium spot as Vierge also slipped backwards.
Luthi had built a decent gap in second but as the laps counted down both Nakagami and Oliveira began to close him down as rookie Fabio Quartararo’s consistent lap times saw him come through to sixth place, dragging Luca Marini with him.
With four laps left, Luthi put the hammer down and set his personal best lap of 2’00.421 to put a final gap on Nakagami and secure second place from the Japanese by a second. Oliveria came home in fourth place, three-tenths further back and Marquez will be wondering what Morbidelli had in his setup bag as the Spaniard could only manage fifth.
Marini passed Quartararo for sixth place with two laps left as Lorenzo Baldassarri taking Vierge for eighth. Axel Pons stayed on for the entire race and completed the top ten.
Suter-mounted Brit Danny Kent was in a podium-challenging spot early doors but went backwards at half distance and ended in 13th., two behind Kiefer Racing team-mate Dominique Aegerter with Franco Bagnaia splitting them.