Britain's Moto2 superstar Scott Redding battled to a valiant second place in this evening Qatar race after leading early on and then shadowing pole-man Pol Esparago but just didn't have enough to bag his first win.
The pair nearly touched on the last lap through sector three and Redding had to get off the throttle, which lost him vital hundredths and then he seemed to decide discretion was the better part of valour and took second place, and the 20 points
"I'm happy to get the season started with a podium here in Qatar. I lost the clutch on the sighting lap, which is a problem we had in practice and qualifying. The guys managed to fix it on the grid, but it wasn't right for the first few laps and the bike was really aggressive on corner entry. In the end I just feathered the clutch going into the turns until it sorted itself out," said Redding.
"I wasn't expecting to lead here, so I didn't really have a plan once I got to the front, other than to keep a good rhythm and maintain my pace. It was a good battle with Pol; I thought I had him on the last lap, but he's a tough rider and I couldn't quite make it through. Next time I know to try that little bit harder to push him into a mistake. Thanks to the team for their hard work, and thanks also to Marc van der Straten for his support."
Espargaró had delivered a last-gasp lap to grab pole on Saturday, but it was Nakagami who led Sunday’s race as the pack battled for the first time this year. Behind, Thai Honda PTT Gresini Moto2’s Ratthapark Wilairot jumped the start and was forced to take a ride-through penalty, whereas Tech 3’s Louis Rossi, Tuenti HP 40’s Axel Pons and QMMF Racing Team’s Anthony West were all early fallers.
More crashes came later into the race, as the stewards looked into investigating a coming together between Jir Moto2’s Mike de Meglio – coming from a pit lane start after a problem on the Warm-Up lap – and NGM Mobile Racing’s Mattia Pasini, which left the latter out of the race. Pasini’s teammate Ricard Cardús was taken to the Medical Centre following an incident, as Wilairot became the sixth and final retirement.
Redding had settled in behind Nakagami at the front, but took his chance to shoot into the lead at the start of the ninth tour, narrowly avoiding contact with his rival’s left knee. Watching the battle unfold, Espargaró posted the fastest lap and quickly proceeded to dispatch with Nakagami, who was unable to maintain the pace of the pair in front but was still pleased with a his maiden podium finish.
Espargaró’s crucial move on Redding for the lead came with five laps to go, with the Englishman losing out on the start/finish straight but managing to keep up in the twisty infield section. There was almost contact between the duo as Redding strived to retake the lead on the final lap, but losing ground allowed the Spaniard to win in Qatar for the first time – crossing the line just under one second ahead.
Fourth position went to Dominique Aegerter and Technomag carXpert, just edging ahead of second Marc VDS rider Mika Kallio as Italtrans’ Julián Simón finished where he started, in sixth place. The top ten was completed by NGM Mobile pair Simone Corsi and Alex de Angelis plus Tuenti HP 40’s Esteve Rabat and Desguaces La Torre Maptaq’s Xavier Simeon.