At the Losail International Circuit, the Tuenti HP 40’s Spanish rider defeated Marc VDS Racing Team’s Great Briton by a comfortable margin to record his fifth victory in the class. Italtrans Racing Team’s Takaaki Nakagami finished third, trailing more than a second behind Espargaro. Last season here, Espargaro was third behind winner Marc Marquez, the reigning world champion who has moved to the premier class racing in the 2013 series, and Andrea Iannone.
On Saturday, Espargaro tied Stefan Bradl’s five successive poles record of 2010 and he looked like not throwing this superb opportunity away. Though he lost the top spot to Nakagami in the race in the very opening lap, he slipped to the third behind Nakagami and Redding after four laps.
In the 10th visit, he charged up and overtook Nakagami when Redding assumed the front-running. Five laps from the finish, Espargaro launched his bold bid, grabbed the lead and held on to the advantage to win in Qatar for the first time.
Espargaro produced two of the fastest laps of the race as well.
In the 8th, he clocked 2:00.974, which he improved to 2:00.931 in the 13th tour.
Redding was more than eight tenths of a second behind Espargaro to get the second spot. Nakagami rounded off the podium. Mika Kallio, the teammate of Redding who started the front row from the third spot, took the fifth place behind Tenchomag carXpert’s Swiss rider Dominique Aegerter.
Julian Simon was sixth and was followed by NGM Mobile pair Simone Corsi and Alex de Angelis, Tuenti HP 40’s Esteve Rabat and Desguaces La Torre Maptaq’s Xavier Simeon.
Thai Rattapark Wilairot of Thai Hoonda PTT Gresini Moto2 had a jump-start and suffered a ride through penalty.
Later he was among the six riders to have crashed out.
These included QMMF’s Anthony West also.
Salom wins Moto3 opener Pole rider Luis Salom claimed the season-opening Moto3 race after uncorking a dramatic last-lap surge. The Red Bull KTM Ajo rider lost the top spot soon after the start. He led four laps as well but never slid out of the leading three.
For Salom, who was fourth in Qatar last year, this was the first time that he was starting from the No 1 spot in his Grand Prix career. Even when the penultimate lap of the 18-lap was about to finish, he was trailing behind Estrella Gallicia 0,0’s Spanish duo of Alex Marquez, the younger brother of MotoGP sensation Marc, and Alex Rins.
But he forged ahead in the final lap and held on to his nerves to win the thriller by beating Maverick Vinales, the Team Calvo rider who holds the fastest race lap record at Losail, by more than four tenths of a second. The third place was taken by Rins, who edged Marquez to complete the top four by the Spanish riders. Rins overtook Salom in the opening lap and led the race for five laps before Salom regained the front-running job.
Rins continued to exert pressure and overtook Salom after three laps to head the race.
Salom came to the front again for a brief period. But as the race moved toward the finish, Rins and Marquez pushed Salom to the third spot and soon Marquez assumed the leading position for the two out of the last three laps. But in a dramatic turnaround, Salom produced a remarkable burst and zoomed ahead of the Estrealla Galicia pair to win the race. Vinales, the winner of the race in Losail last season, also surged past both Rins and Marquez to grab the second place. He beat Rins in a photofinish.
The fifth spot was sealed by Jonas Folger, who lost the control and swung wide in the middle of the race but regained the ground enough to beat Malaysian Zulfahmi Khairuddin from Red Bull KTM Ajo to the sixth spot. Four riders, John McPhee, Issac Vinales, Alan Techer and Niccolo Antonelli, suffered crashes and failed to finish the race.