MotoGP season 2017 has officially started. First race of the season did take place in Qatar, in Doha circuit. But the weekend’s schedule was affected by bad weather conditions a lot. It was raining. Luckily the riders were able to have free practise sessions on Thursday and Friday and it was on dry track.
On Saturday it was raining, the track was wet a lot and it was dangerous for the riders to go for some laps. So after some Safety commission’s meetings it was announced that the qualification was cancelled. The starting grid was determined by the combined free practise times.
So Maverick Viñales with his Yamaha debut was on pole position for the first time in his MotoGP career. Andrea Iannone with his Suzuki debut was second on the grid and Marc Márquez was third.
In the second row there were MotoGP rookie Johann Zarco, Andrea Dovizioso and Scott Redding. Dani Pedrosa, another rookie Jonas Folger and Cal Crutchlow were starting from the third row.
Valentino Rossi was only 10th, Jorge Lorenzo with his Ducati debut even 12th.
Already after the Moto2 race there were some drops of rain. Unfortunately it turned out to light rain and the MotoGP race start was delayed. Then riders did the formation lap and they weren’t happy with the track conditions so the race start was delayed once again.
The race started with the 40 minutes delay then. It was shortened to 20 laps with 2 warm up laps.
Just when the race was delayed for the second time, Márquez and Crutchlow did some risky change for the front medium tyre. But as I heard it wasn’t their voluntary decision. Johann Zarco changed his rear medium to soft one.
So finally about 20:45 CEST we saw the start of the first MotoGP race of the season 2017. Dovizioso made quite a good start, also Márquez and Iannone. But it was the rookie Zarco on the Yamaha Tech 3 bike who went into the lead.
Who thought it could be just one lap lead was wrong. Zarco started to build some interesting gap. He was escaping from his rivals. These first 6 laps of the race were just phenomenal. But then he crashed. We can say it was the mistake of the rookie. But the Frenchman did prove that he could be competitive with the MotoGP stars already from the beginning.
After Zarco’s crash it was Dovizioso who went into the lead. Márquez was 2nd, Iannone 3rd, Viñales 4th.
But before Zarco crashed from the race Cal Crutchlow was the first crasher of the day. Then he re-joined the race but a few minutes later he crashed once again.
Later also Álvaro Bautista crashed. And then Andrea Iannone as well.
Dovizioso was still in the lead but Viñales already made it to the 2nd position. Rossi overtook Márquez for P3. Márquez started to losing some time to the rivals ahead of him.
Dovizioso and Viñales had quite a cool battle for the victory with some brave overtaking manoeuvres. Dovizioso’s Ducati was really fast on the finish line but in the technical sectors it was Viñales who was usually the better one. In the last few laps the Spaniard was able to escape a little bit from the Italian and he took his first victory as Yamaha rider.
Andrea Dovizioso was 2nd then and Valentino Rossi finished 3rd.
Marc Márquez was 4th, his team mate Dani Pedrosa finished 5th but in the end of the race he was coming closer to him. Aleix Espargaró with his Aprilia debut was 6th and not far from both Repsol Honda riders. Amazing performance from Aprilia who did struggle in the last few seasons.
Scott Redding was 7th, Jack Miller 8th, to be in top 10 is great for both of them. MotoGP rookie Alex Rins was 9th and another rookie Jonas Folger 10th.
Jorge Lorenzo with his Ducati debut made it to 11th place, Loris Baz was 12th just ahead of his team mate Héctor Barberá.
Karel Abraham was 14th in his MotoGP comeback. Tito Rabat finished 15th and so scored one point.
The KTM debut was a little bit difficult as Pol Espargaró was 16th and Bradley Smith 17th. It also wasn’t an easy start to the year for another rookie Sam Lowes who was 18th, which means the last one.
Here is the full race classification with the time differencies to the best one and so on.
Of course the Championship standing is same as the race results. Which means Viñales leads the table with 25 points.
The next round of the World Championship is scheduled on 7th – 9th April in Argentina at the Termas de Río Hondo circuit.