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Qatar MotoGP, Lusail RACE | Pecco Bagnaia shows quality in Qatar with assertive victory

Gold & Goose

Pecco Bagnaia got his bid for a third consecutive MotoGP World Championship title off to a stylish start with a commanding victory in the Qatar MotoGP, the opening round of the 2024 season.

The Italian put his low key run to fourth in Saturday's Sprint Race behind him to control the full-length encounter from almost start-to-finish after assuming the lead from Jorge Martin on the opening lap.

Managing a margin of around a second to the chasing opposition, Bagnaia would come home a comfortable winner by +1.5secs by the flag, with Brad Binder completing a strong opening weekend to pick up another second place result of the weekend, trailed by Martin in third.


An absorbing, if not terribly exciting start to the 2024 MotoGP season, meticulous preparation over the two-day pre-season test around the Lusail International Circuit certainly showed under the floodlights as the riders tussled out hard for fairly fine margins from few errors.

As such, the big moves would ultimately be made in the seconds after lights out, albeit only after a ten-minute delay to proceedings due to an aborted first getaway, triggered by Raul Fernandez stalling on the grid before then refusing to exit stage-right to the pit-lane once he’d fired the Trackhouse Aprilia up again.

With Fernandez eventually ceding to start his season from the pits, the race got underway with Martin getting the hole-shot into Turn 1 from Binder initially, though the South African would be rather rudely sat up by Bagnaia into Turn 2 and dropped to third.

Having suffered when running behind rivals through the Doha circuit’s sweeping, fast turns, Bagnaia’s game plan of getting to the front quickly was executed cleanly by Turn 4 as he dipped below Martin to assume a lead he’d ultimately keep to the end.

Indeed, though Bagnaia had some uncomfortable shadowing from both Martin and Binder - the pair swapping positions twice early on - the Italian would default to one of his key championship-winning strengths by pulling the pin unexpectedly on lap ten and building a margin over the pack from +0.2s to almost a second.

Coming after Martin had once again gotten the better of Binder through T1, Bagnaia’s turning up of the wick seemed to catch them unawares as they squabbled to keep the Italian in sight. 

Matters weren’t helped when Binder - though successful in making his pass back to second on Martin at Turn 1 on Lap 11 - took both out wide in doing so, raising the margin ahead to +1.2secs.

To his credit, Binder did make in-roads through the second-half, easing his gap out to Martin and chasing the gap down to the front to well under a second. However, the final laps would see the pendulum swing back the other way, Bagnaia keeping his lap times consistent as Binder found himself back in the clutches of Martin.

The top three would remain unchanged to the flag though, Bagnaia completing a 19th career MotoGP victory to assume the early lead in the standings, followed by Binder and Martin.


Just off the podium, Marc Marquez will leave Qatar satisfied with his set of results after showing strong pace throughout en route to fourth place. Though not the hat-trick he might have secretly been targeting for Gresini Racing, Marquez kept the top three honest to indicate he will be a force to be reckoned with once he finds his ultimate groove on the GP23.

That said, the eight-time World Champion did have a battle on his hands at the mid-way point in the race after Pedro Acosta - the rider many are branding ‘the next Marquez’ - bared his teeth with some en pointe overtakes on the limit, not least his pass for fourth on the relative elder statesman.

While it was a strong show of guile from Acosta as he briefly appeared to have the speed capable of challenging for the podium, it was also a bit too much too soon for the only rookie in the field, a tell-tale wide moment at Turn 3 on lap 14 of 21 proving the first warning of a rear-tyre that had long piqued.

Triggering a rather ragged slide down the order, Acosta would nonetheless still end his first MotoGP weekend with a fine top ten finish in ninth.


Back in the top five, Enea Bastianini got the better of Alex Marquez late on following a race-long battle to secure fifth, ahead of his fellow Ducati rider, while Fabio di Giannantonio gritted his teeth to put Saturday’s painful crash behind him with a solid, if unspectacular run to seventh for the 2023 Qatar MotoGP winner.

In eighth, Aleix Espargaro - many people’s tip for victory given his surge of speed in the latter stages of the Sprint Race - never recovered from a terrible start that dropped him from second to the bottom of the top ten where he’d stay to the flag.

Rounding out the top ten, Maverick Vinales endured a very lonely race in tenth - where he started - some two seconds down on Acosta, but four seconds clear of a closer battle for the remainder of the points’ paying positions.

Those spots were largely fought over by the best of an ailing Japanese contingent with Fabio Quartararo winning out in the Yamaha vs Honda contest to finish 11th, ahead of RC213V riders Johann Zarco and Joan Mir in 12th and 13th place respectively.

On a curiously lacklustre weekend from start-to-finish, Marco Bezzecchi will no doubt be keen to put Qatar behind him as he laboured to a disappointing 14th, just fending off Miguel Oliveira, who ensured a single point for Trackhouse Racing Aprilia on its MotoGP debut despite curio of having to serve a long-lap penalty rolled over for an offence committed four months earlier at the 2023 Qatar MotoGP.

Only one rider would fail to finish with Fernandez eventually losing his argument with the Aprilia by pulling in with technical issues, though Jack Miller was a faller after low-siding at Turn 1 on lap two before remounting.

He’d finish last, just a couple of tenths off a no doubt disheartened Luca Marini, whose high-profile first outing with Repsol Honda ended with him finishing 21st, some 17secs adrift of the rider ahead around a circuit upon which he started from pole in November.

🇶🇦 🏁 2024 Qatar MotoGP, Lusail | RACE Results

Sunday | Conditions - Dry

🇶🇦 ⏱️ 2024 Qatar MotoGP Results | Lusail International Circuit, Qatar | RACE Results | Round 1 of 21
1Pecco Bagnaia🇮🇹Ducati Leonovo TeamDucati GP2421 Laps
2Brad Binder🇿🇦Red Bull KTM Factory RacingKTM RC16+1.329
3Jorge Martin🇪🇦Prima Pramac RacingDucati GP24+1.933
4Marc Marquez🇪🇦Gresini RacingDucati GP23+3.429
5Enea Bastianini🇮🇹Ducati Leonovo TeamDucati GP24+5.153
6Alex Marquez🇪🇦Gresini RacingDucati GP23+6.791
7Fabio di Giannantonio🇮🇹Pertamina Enduro VR46 RacingDucati GP23+9.161
8Aleix Espargaro🇪🇦Aprilia RacingAprilia RS-GP+11.242
9Pedro Acosta🇪🇦Red Bull GasGas Factory Tech3KTM RC16+11.595
10Maverick Vinales🇪🇦Aprilia RacingAprilia RS-GP+13.197
11Fabio Quartararo🇫🇷Monster Energy YamahaYamaha M1+17.701
12Johann Zarco🇫🇷LCR HondaHonda RC213V+18.075
13Joan Mir🇪🇦Repsol Honda TeamHonda RC213V+18.437
14Marco Bezzecchi🇮🇹Pertamina Enduro VR46 RacingDucati GP23+19.194
15Miguel Oliveira🇵🇹Trackhouse RacingAprilia RS-GP+20.717
16Alex Rins🇪🇦Monster Energy YamahaYamaha M1+24.093
17Augusto Fernandez🇪🇦Red Bull GasGas Factory Tech3KTM RC16+24.106
18Franco Morbidelli🇮🇹Prima Pramac RacingDucati GP24+24.641
19Takaaki Nakagami🇯🇵LCR HondaHonda RC213V+25.556
20Luca Marini🇮🇹Repsol Honda TeamHonda RC213V+42.422
21Jack Miller🇦🇺Red Bull KTM Factory RacingKTM RC16+42.761
DNFRaul Fernandez 🇪🇦Trackhouse RacingAprilia RS-GP-

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