2018 Qatar MotoGP Sunday Round Up: Closer Than Ever

You might call that a good start to the new season. There were four races held on Sunday at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar: three Grand Prix classes and race two of the Asia Talent Cup. All four would become titanic battles between riders, ending in searing duels to the line. Three of the four would be decided by less than three hundredths of a second. The fourth – Moto2 – would be decided by just over a tenth. The combined winning margin for MotoGP, Moto2, and Moto3 is just 0.162 seconds. Add in the Asia Talent Cup, and that takes the grand total to 0.175 seconds.

It seems fair to say we were treated to some insanely close races at Qatar. In Moto2 and Moto3, three riders broke away to contest victory among themselves. In both classes, an incident – a crash in Moto3, a technical problem with the rear brake in Moto2 – saw the trio whittled down to a duo, the race going all the way to the line.

The MotoGP race was even tighter, the closest finishing group ever at Qatar, with first place separated from seventh place by just 4.621 seconds, and from eighth by 7.112. The top three finished within a second, the top two by 0.027 seconds – a numerologically pleasing gap, given the race-winning machine.

This was the closest race in MotoGP that I can remember. The leaders streaked across the line to complete 22 laps on Sunday night, and on 11 of those laps, the gap between first and second was less than a tenth of a second. On another seven laps, the gap was between one and two tenths. On the remaining four laps, the gap was always under three tenths.

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2018 Qatar Moto2 FP3 Result: Marquez Mugs Baldassarri

Hot tarmac and wind was the order of the day for the intermediate class, raising no expectations of improving on Friday’s times or learning much for the race. Nonetheless, they chased each other around for 45 minutes and fought for vaguely relevant supremacy.

Alex Marquez was living up to the surname by offering us noteworthy replays and running off track in every session he took part in this weekend. The Spaniard got it together in the very last minute to dip into the 2:01s and go two tenths faster than the opposition.

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2018 Qatar Moto2 FP2 Result: The Marquez Method

With the sun having set, the famous bright lights of Losail coming to life and the temperature starting to drop, the timesheets for the intermediate class changed configuration somewhat from what the afternoon offered.

After narrowly missing out in the first session, Alex Marquez exerted his revenge and set camp at the top of the timesheets early on once again, improving his time by one second and showing mighty pace throughout his run, as well as the occasional highlights reel twitch.

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2018 Qatar Moto2 FP1 Result: Baldassarri Reborn

The intermediate class had no trouble warming up after a long winter in the thirty odd degrees of Qatar and one name who definitely benefited from a change in scenery is Lorenzo Baldassarri. The Italian made the jump to the Pons team after an underwhelming 2017 campaign and the first signs are extremely encouraging, Baldassarri consistently in the top five of FP1 and leaving it late to sneak ahead of his challengers and grab the headlines by two tenths of a second.

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Q&A: Pecco Bagnaia On The Jerez Moto2 Test, The 2018 Kalex, And Pressure For The Coming Season

Pecco Bagnaia goes into the 2018 season as one of the major favorites for the Moto2 championship. The Italian is rated very highly among team managers and factory bosses. So highly rated, in fact, that Ducati have already signed Bagnaia to a two-year deal to race in the Pramac Ducati squad for 2019 and 2020.

He proved his pace at the final Moto2 test ahead of the 2018 season at Jerez. Bagnaia was fastest on the first day, and tied for third quickest on the second and best day of the test. When asking around among his Moto2 rivals, the Sky VR46 Racing Team rider's name is the first to be mentioned as a candidate for the title.

On Wednesday evening, Bagnaia spoke to a small group of journalists about how testing had gone so far, about the changes to the 2018 Kalex chassis, and about the pressure he feels ahead of the 2018 Moto2 season. But first, Bagnaia wanted to address some of the rumors floating around about his leg, injured in a crash at the Valencia Moto2 test.

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