GP of Doha: Joan Mir’s Chance At Redemptionby Dale Money April 2, 2021 0 comments
With a successful first round of the MotoGP in the books, we finish up the doubleheader this weekend in Doha. Most years, the Argentinian and American GPs would follow the event in Qatar. However, because of COVID-19 travel restrictions, MotoGP needed to move those events back till later in the season. It will again be a night race on Sunday and run at the Losail International Circuit.
Maverick Vinales got the season off to a sound start on Sunday, picking up the first series win of 2021. This win comes four years after his lone Qatar victory as a MotoGP rider. Vinales also released the stranglehold Ducati had at Qatar over the prior two years.
Vinales would start third in the running order, although it would take 11 laps to overtake Johann Zarco. Once he gained the second position, Vinales would not let up (while putting plenty of pressure on leader Francesco Bagnaia). Vinales and Bagnaia would battle for a handful of laps, with Vinales making the eventual pass with eight laps remaining. After gaining the lead on Bagnaia, Vinales continued to hold onto the first place position (not relinquishing the lead from there on).
“There is no doubt, for sure I am full of confidence but we stay calm and not get too enthusiastic too early because we know that we need to work.”
After starting 10th in the running order, Joan Mir needed to dig deep in the opening round. With just a lap left remaining, Mir would get by Zarco for the second place position and looked to be on his way to a podium result. However, on the final straightaway, both Zarco and Bagnaia blew by Mir (leaving him with a fourth place finish). While it must still leave a sour taste in his mouth, Mir now gets a another opportunity to do things right.
With Marc Marquez likely returning for the Grand Prix in Portugal, a win in Doha almost feels necessary. The main goal for Mir heading into this next race will be improving that qualifying position, undoubtedly. Given the problems Mir had last week in regards to qualifying, he did fine, considering. Mir sits 12 points back of Vinales.
“It’s true but we also need to work to improve our bike. Last year we showed in the second race always good potential,” Mir said.
Sam Lowes would be unable to take advantage of his pole position, dropping back to third out of the gate. However, he would quickly get himself settled, making quick ground on the first two riders. Lowes would quickly overtake Bo Bendsneyder for second with 20 laps remaining and continue chasing down leader Marco Bezzecchi. Bezzecchi would stick it out as long as he could but would surrender the lead two laps later.
Lowes went on to put a sizable gap between himself and the rest of the field (finishing more than five seconds ahead of the third place rider). Remy Gardner, who finished runner-up to Lowes, still trailed by more than two seconds. Lowes becomes the first British rider since Barry Sheene to win the season’s debut event. He also becomes the first rider of British descent to win a race at Losail in 17 years.
Finishing with the last podium position was Fabio Di Giannantonio, getting Aprilia on the board for Gresini Racing. Following the loss of Fausto Gresini in late February, it was indeed an emotional result.
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