The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP riders have done the team proud again under the Losail floodlights. Fabio Quartararo had a stunning ride from eighth in the early stages of today‘s Grand Prix of Doha to a victory with a 1.457s lead. Maverick Viñales was also in the run for a podium position. A small evasive action in the final stages had him just miss out on a podium by 0.6s, but he scored 11 solid points with his fifth place.
The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP team proved to be unbeatable at the Losail International Circuit in 2021. Following Maverick Viñales‘ victory at the Grand Prix of Qatar one week ago, Fabio Quartararo brought home the win in today‘s tense Grand Prix of Doha battle, with Viñales finishing in fifth.
Quartararo started from P5, and after the usual opening laps’ hustle, he found himself in ninth position, ahead of his teammate. But the youngster remained calm, trusting in the consistency of his race pace. He managed his tyres beautifully, until he found the right moment to pounce.
By the midway stage, the Yamaha man started to move through the order again. The number-20 rider smoothly moved up to fifth with nine laps to go. He soon also overtook Alex Rins and was sniffing a podium. He wasn‘t having any of Rins‘ advances and whilst defending his place, he reeled in the leading duo.
With five laps to go, he skilfully overtook Johann Zarco and needed only a couple more corners to take the lead from Jorge Martin. Though he was briefly overtaken due to slipstream, the Frenchman relentlessly attacked again, making the most of his Yamaha‘s corner speed. This time he made it stick and checked out. He put the hammer down and faultlessly rode to his first win of the season, taking it with a 1.457s lead.
Viñales commenced the race from third place on the grid and settled into ninth at the end of the first lap. Similar to last week, he spent the majority of the race stalking his teammate, saving tyres at the start and going in attack-mode in the decisive stage.
Mistakes from Joan Mir, Aleix Espargaró, and Francesco Bagnaia moved him up to sixth place on lap 16. It was the Yamaha man‘s cue to start pushing. This was the moment that the earlier tyre management paid off.
Having recovered to fourth place with three laps to go, Viñales was in with a shout for a podium. He was putting Zarco and Martin under serious pressure. However, two laps before the end the number-12 rider had to avoid a collision in the last corner and went wide. It cost him a position and ended his challenge for the top 3. He finished the race in fifth place, 2.110s from first.
Today‘s results put Quartararo and Viñales in second and third place in the championship standings, both with 36 points total. Yamaha and the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP team remain in first place with a 50 and 72 points total respectively after Round 2.
The MotoGP paddock will travel to Portugal next for the third round of the 2021 MotoGP season, the Grande Prémio de Portugal, to be held at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve from 16th-18th April, 2021.
Fabio Quartararo: “I have no words. This race win is different from the previous three MotoGP races I‘ve won so far. After the last race I was a bit disappointed in myself. During this race it was totally different. I was thinking so well, I played a lot with the map and the tyres. Nine or ten laps to the end I thought ’Right now is the moment to push and show our potential‘. It‘s great to finish in first position! I was so happy with FP4, because I felt like I was the only rider to do only high 1‘54s laps. So we made a plan, but the team also told me to play it by feeling, and I did that really well today. I was feeling so good. When I overtook Zarco, I also immediately overtook Martin. I was so scared when I hit the debris on track. I thought ’Not a puncture, please!‘, because it made a bad sound. My last lap didn‘t feel as fast as the earlier ones, but it was enough for the win. Singing the French anthem with Zarco today was the best moment I ever had.”
Maverick Viñales: “For sure, the race didn‘t go as we expected, but I‘m still quite happy, because in the end this is a positive result. I was managing the tyres a lot at the beginning so I could be stronger at the end. It paid off, because at the end I was very strong, especially the rear grip was good. I just wish we would have had five more laps. We will try to come back stronger. I know we have to improve some areas, mainly my riding style. The most important thing is that the bike has great potential, and we demonstrated this in the last ten laps. I was trying to overtake and be stronger every lap. We tried, and overall I felt it was a positive day, even if the results didn‘t show our true potential for Qatar Race 2. Still, I think fifth is a nice result, and I fought back with all that I had.”