MotoGP 2020 Round 01 Qatar

Honda Moto3 Men Pack the Leading Places in Qatar

Losail International Circuit, Qatar, March 8, 2020

Report

The 2020 Moto3 World Championship got underway under the Losail floodlights today with Honda riders in the midst of the battle for victory and filling eight of the first nine positions.

John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing Honda NSF250RW) rode superbly to finish second, just 0.053 seconds behind winner Albert Arenas. A further two tenths behind McPhee came Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW), scoring the second Grand Prix podium of his career.

Just 0.834 seconds covered the top ten at the checkered flag, with Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) taking a close fourth in his first race on a Honda; then Tatsuki Suzuki (Sic58 Squadra Corse Honda NSF250RW), Gabriel Rodrigo (Kommerling Gresini Moto3 Honda NSF250RW), Jeremy Alcoba (Kommerling Gresini Moto3 Honda NSF250RW), Filip Salac (Rivacold Snipers Team Honda NSF250RW) and Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW).

McPhee spent much of the race in the middle of the lead pack, which had the top 15 separated by just 1.3 seconds at half-distance. The 25-year-old Briton's plan was to save his tires for the all-important final laps when he began moving forward and making some excellent passes. On the last lap he worked his way into second place, right behind Arenas, aiming to slipstream past the Spaniard on the long run to the finish line. Only one thing spoiled this plan. As McPhee attacked the final corner he took a defensive line in case anyone tried to take second place from him. This spoiled his exit speed and he wasn't quite close enough to draft Arenas.

Ogura crossed the line in fourth place, but was promoted to third when Masia was penalized one position for exceeding track limits during the frantic final lap. The 19-year-old from Saitama, contesting his second GP campaign, had an excellent preseason, which suggested he will be a contender for the 2020 Moto3 crown. He started from the second row today, but lost to rivals using different tire compounds in the early stages of the race. In the later laps he made an impressive comeback, maintaining a rapid pace, even though his tires were past their best, and passing several rivals. At the finish he was just 0.344 seconds behind Arenas.

Masia wasn't happy about losing the podium, but nevertheless he can be happy about his first race aboard an NSF250RW. The 19-year-old Spaniard fought at the front throughout, with enough race pace to challenge for victory. He was one five riders handed a one-position penalty for running too wide on the last lap. The others included fifth-placed Suzuki, sixth-placed Rodrigo and seventh-placed rookie Alcoba.

Suzuki started the race from pole position, hoping to repeat his pole-to-victory performance at last September's San Marino GP. He led during the first lap and was back in the hunt during the later stages, finally missing the podium by four tenths of a second.

Tony Arbolino (Snipers Team Honda NSF250RW) also starred in the lead group, making some stunning passes, but lost out in the last-lap brawl, when he went to fourth to 15th. after a collision with South African rider Darryn Binder.

Ogura's new team-mate Yuki Kunii (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) commenced his first World Championship season with a respectable 18th-place finish, less than four seconds outside the points. The 17-year-old rookie from Tokyo started from 15th on the grid and learned plenty while battling with rivals.

The opening Moto2 Grand Prix of the year went to first-time winner Tetsuta Nagashima (Red Bull KTM Ajo Kalex), who rode a brilliantly judged race, fighting his way through from 14th on the grid to take the lead for the first time on lap 18 of 20 and quickly escape from the lead pack. The 27-year-old father of three from Kanagawa took the flag 1.347 seconds ahead of last year's Losail Moto2 winner Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40 Kalex).

Nagashima was understandably emotional after not only his first victory but his first podium, which came ten years after his friend Shoya Tomizawa won the first race of the inaugural Moto2 season, here at Losail in April 2010. Tomizawa tragically lost his life at Misano five months later.

Former Moto3 winner Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex) completed the podium, scoring his second Moto2 top-three finish and his first since last August's Czech GP.

Joe Roberts (American Racing Kalex) started the race from pole position – the first American to do so in a decade – and was in the lead group throughout, taking the flag in fourth place, 0.131 seconds off the podium. The 22-year-old, whose previous best finish was a tenth-place finish at the 2017 Czech GP, was the only rider in the lead group to choose a harder-compound front tire.

Also in the podium hunt were Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team Kalex) and Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up Speed Up), who finished fifth and sixth.

Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46 Kalex) led much of the race after starting from the front row but ran out of grip before the finish, slipping outside the top ten, then crashing on the final lap after tangling with a rival.

Team-mates Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) and Andi Farid Izdihar (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) learned a lot during the first weekend of their 2020 Moto2 campaigns.

Rookie Farid Izdihar enjoyed his race to 22nd place, despite losing a lot of time in the first lap, when he ran very wide into the first corner. The 22-year-old Indonesian ran a consistent pace after that, giving him a good basis from which to work for the rest of the season.

Chantra, starting his second Moto2 season, was hoping for a points-scoring result, but he slid off during the first lap. The 21-year-old Thai remounted in last place and doggedly kept going to the finish.

Today's season-opening Qatar Grand Prix went ahead without the premier MotoGP class due to the coronavirus outbreak. The Moto2 and Moto3 classes were already in Qatar, completing their preseason testing at Losail, when Qatari authorities introduced stricter travel restrictions last Sunday, so riders and teams remained in the country, awaiting the race weekend.

However, the MotoGP class had tested at Losail the previous week, so most riders and team staff had returned home. The travel restrictions prevented Italian paddock members returning to Qatar. This affected a significant proportion of the MotoGP grid – both riders and staff – so the decision was taken to cancel the race.

Earlier this weekend a revised 2020 World Championship calendar was published, rescheduling the postponed Thailand Grand Prix to October. The MotoGP category is currently due to go racing alongside the Moto2 and Moto3 classes at the Grand Prix of the Americas on April 5.

Comments

Moto2

Tetsuta Nagashima (Red Bull KTM Ajo Kalex): 1st
"My feeling at the moment is that this is like a dream! Yesterday I made a small mistake in qualifying, so my grid position was not perfect. From the start I was pushing very hard to make up positions. I focused very hard and never stopped pushing. This is a great result for me and the team – last year I got close to the podium but I never got the podium."

Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40 Kalex): 2nd
"I am very, very happy! I had a difficult winter, so it was great to come here and start the season – finally to stop thinking about everything and just ride the bike and enjoy the race. I had some difficulties in practice, including a crash in FP1, so I must say thank you to my team for their great job. I was very confident about my rhythm and I made a very good race, but at the end Nagashima passed us all and escaped."

Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex): 3rd
"All the race we were very, very close to each other. I was able to start from the front row, which made things easier, and finally I was able to finish on the podium. I pushed a lot in the final three or four laps, when Nagashima was so fast. It was impossible to stay with him! I had a great battle with Balda and I'm really happy with this podium."

Andi Farid Izdihar (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex): 22nd
"A very exciting race for me, here in Qatar. I started very well, but I made a mistake braking into the first corner, losing a lot of time. I tried to catch the group ahead and tried to keep the pace. I was able to ride a consistent pace, and I'm happy about that. It's the first round of the season, and I need to improve many things, especially in the first practices. I would like to thank my team. They helped me a lot during my first weekend as a full-time World Championship rider."

Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex): 25th
"My goal, here in Qatar, was to score points, but I was involved in a crash during the first lap. That was a little bit frustrating because I made a good start and I felt that I had some options for a good result. This weekend I learned a lot – my technical crew is new this year, and they helped me a lot."

Moto3

John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing Honda NSF250RW): 2nd
"It's a fantastic way to start and I'm so happy for the team and for everyone that's been working hard around me to make this possible. We've worked all off-season for this; I've worked with my crew and really focused on being alone on track to work on the race pace. To then put all the practice into the performance today was a really nice feeling. The first seven or eight laps caught me a little unawares as I didn't expect some of the guys to be so strong. I knew that my main strength was at the end of the race on the used tire so I was keeping that in mind trying to stay with the top seven. I almost put the perfect plan together!"

Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW): 3rd
"It was a tough race at the beginning, because I struggled to pass the riders who were using the hard tire, and I lost many positions. Lap by lap, I've seen that the performance of the other riders was dropping and I had the option to overtake them. But I'd lost too much time in the beginning and, even if I gained a lot, it wasn't enough. I didn't expect to finish on the podium in the first race."

Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW): 4th
"After the finish they told me I had gone onto the green on the outside of the track. But Rodrigo was coming through on the inside, so both of us went wide. This wasn't intentional and it wasn't like I did anything stupid. It was the last lap and we were all pushing. It's a shame, because we made big progress in the last two weeks during testing and practice, and because of the smallest margin we lost the podium. Anyway, we will keep working and come back from this stronger."

Yuki Kunii (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW): 18th
"Honestly, I'm happy with the result, because during the weekend I struggled a lot with my feeling on the bike. At the beginning of the race I made a lot of mistakes, because I was nervous, but finally I felt better. That's my first race of my first World Championship season. We will keep trying to improve more. I learned a lot this weekend, and I need to keep going."

Results

Moto2

Rank Rider
1Tetsuta NAGASHIMA (Red Bull KTM Ajo)
2Lorenzo BALDASSARRI (Flexbox HP 40)
3Enea BASTIANINI (Italtrans Racing Team)
4Joe ROBERTS (American Racing)
5Remy GARDNER (Onexox TKKR SAG Team)
6Jorge NAVARRO (Beta Tools Speed Up)
7Marcel SCHROTTER (Liqui Moly Intact GP)
8Aron CANET (Aspar Team)
9Xavi VIERGE (Petronas Sprinta Racing)
10Thomas LUTHI (Liqui Moly Intact GP)
11Bo BENDSNEYDER (NTS RW Racing GP)
12Marco BEZZECCHI (SKY Racing Team VR46)
13Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO (Beta Tools Speed Up)
14Jake DIXON (Petronas Sprinta Racing)
15Stefano MANZI (MV Agusta Forward Racing)
16Edgar PONS (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2)
17Hector GARZO (Flexbox HP 40)
18Nicolo BULEGA (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2)
19Hafizh SYAHRIN (Aspar Team)
20Jorge MARTIN (Red Bull KTM Ajo)
21Simone CORSI (MV Agusta Forward Racing)
22Andi IZDIHAR (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia)
23Jesko RAFFIN (NTS RW Racing GP)
24Lorenzo DALLA PORTA (Italtrans Racing Team)
25Somkiat CHANTRA (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia)
RTLuca MARINI (SKY Racing Team VR46)
RTKasma Daniel (Onexox TKKR SAG Team)
RTAugusto FERNANDEZ (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS)
RTMarcos RAMIREZ (American Racing)

Moto3

Rank Rider
1Albert ARENAS (Aspar Team Gaviota)
2John MCPHEE (Petronas Sprinta Racing)
3Ai OGURA (Honda Team Asia)
4Jaume MASIA (Leopard Racing)
5Tatsuki SUZUKI (SIC58 Squadra Corse)
6Gabriel RODRIGO (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3)
7Jeremy ALCOBA (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3)
8Filip SALAC (Rivacold Snipers Team)
9Dennis FOGGIA (Leopard Racing)
10Raul FERNANDEZ (Red Bull KTM Ajo)
11Sergio GARCIA (Estrella Galicia 0,0)
12Deniz ONCU (Red Bull KTM Tech 3)
13Alonso LOPEZ (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team)
14Kaito TOBA (Red Bull KTM Ajo)
15Tony ARBOLINO (Rivacold Snipers Team)
16Andrea MIGNO (SKY Racing Team VR46)
17Romano FENATI (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team)
18Yuki KUNII (Honda Team Asia)
19Ayumu SASAKI (Red Bull KTM Tech 3)
20Ryusei YAMANAKA (Estrella Galicia 0,0)
21Carlos TATAY (Reale Avintia Racing)
22Stefano NEPA (Aspar Team Gaviota)
23Davide PIZZOLI (BOE Skull Rider Facile Energy)
24Riccardo ROSSI (BOE Skull Rider Facile Energy)
25Jason DUPASQUIER (CarXpert PruestelGP)
26Khairul Idham Pawi (Petronas Sprinta Racing)
27Maximilian KOFLER (CIP Green Power)
28Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46)
29Dirk GEIGER (CarXpert PruestelGP)
RTDarryn BINDER (CIP Green Power)
RTJose Julian GARCIA (SIC58 Squadra Corse)

Photos

Tetsuta NAGASHIMA(#45), Jorge MARTIN(#88)

Tetsuta NAGASHIMA

Lorenzo BALDASSARRI, Tetsuta NAGASHIMA, Enea BASTIANINI

Lorenzo BALDASSARRI

Enea BASTIANINI

Enea BASTIANINI

Joe Roberts

Aron CANET

Xavi VIERGE

Jake DIXON

Stefano Manzi

Jorge Martin

Andi Farid Izdihar

Andi Farid Izdihar

Somkiat CHANTRA

Somkiat CHANTRA

Luca MARINI

Jaume MASIA(#5), John Mcphee(#17), Dennis FOGGIA(#7)

John Mcphee

John Mcphee, Ai Ogura

Ai Ogura

Ai Ogura

Ai Ogura (#79)

Jaume MASIA

Jaume MASIA

Tatsuki Suzuki

Tatsuki Suzuki(#24)

Gabriel Rodrigo

Jeremy Alcoba(#52), Filip SALAC(#12)

Filip SALAC

Filip SALAC

Dennis FOGGIA

Dennis FOGGIA(#7), Filip SALAC(#12), Jeremy Alcoba(#52)

Tony Arbolino

Yuki Kunii

Yuki Kunii(#92), Ryusei Yamanaka(#6)

Ryusei Yamanaka

Khairul Idham PAWI

Jose Julian Garcia

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