Francesco Bagnaia claimed his first Moto2 race win with a commanding performance in Qatar.
He narrowly beat compatriot Lorenzo Baldassarri by just 0.112s after a last corner lunge, with Alex Marquez 5.625s behind.
The Italian began the race on the front row in third place, land lead every lap. Fighting with compatriot Baldassarri, he was able to hold off the challenge of Alex Marquez.
Marquez was pushing the Italians as hard as he could, however had to ease off on lap 15. His rear brake seized and he ran wide at turn 1. He was able to rejoin and held onto third place, however was unable to challenge for the win. That left Baldassarri and Bagnaia alone to fight for victory, which came down to a last corner showdown. Baldassarri dived under Bagnaia but was unable to prevent Bagnaia cutting back under him. Bagnaia won the drag to the line and crossed just 0.112s ahead.
Mattia Pasini moved up from 8th on the grid to finish in 4th place, ahead of Red Bull KTM Ajo duo Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder.
Speaking after the race, Bagnaia said:
I’m really happy to have started the season in this way! Today we have collected the fruits of the great work done in these months. We focused on the race pace and this was the key for the victory. I decided to get on track with the hardest compound available, but it went well. Compared to last year, I made an important step on the management of the first laps, when the tank is full and today I was really fast. A long race: I started strong, but Marquez and Baldassarri reduced the gap and in the last laps I had to close all the doors. This is the first victory for me and for the Team in Moto2: I dedicate it to all those who work on this project and have always supported me, my family and the guys at the VR46 Riders Academy.