2019 Qatar MotoGP Race Round Up: From Masterful Management To Youthful Recklessness

For a place which 95% of the paddock hates going to, Qatar certainly knows how to make us want to come back. The area between Doha and the Losail International Circuit has been a mixture of noisy construction, omnipresent sand and dust, and an ever-changing and convoluted road system (the route to the track regularly and literally changing overnight) ever since I first went to a race there in 2009. But once at the circuit, the track layout serves up some of the best racing in the world.

Fittingly, the title sponsor for the Qatar round of MotoGP was VisitQatar, the Qatari tourist office aimed at stimulating inbound tourism to the Gulf peninsula. To be honest, the best thing VisitQatar could do to attract visitors to the country is just play all three of Sunday's races on a loop. In the Moto3 race, the first eleven riders all finished within a second. The first five riders in MotoGP finished within six tenths of a second. And the winning margin in all three races was five hundredths of a second or less. These were races decided by the width of a wheel, the winner in doubt all the way to the line.

The MotoGP race was a thrilling affair, a close race from start to finish, with wild passes as far as the eye can see. Riders jockeyed for position, vying to make their contesting strategies pay off. Yet it still left some fans feeling empty, with the impression that they were being cheated of an even better race if the riders has been willing and able to go flat out as soon as the lights went out all the way to the end.

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2019 Qatar Moto2 FP3 Result: Martin Makes His Presence Felt

Another outing in the desert sun for the intermediate class and a chance to shine for KTM. Moto3 reigning champion Jorge Martin topped his first session after he stole it in the final five minutes from FP1 leader Marcel Schrotter. The duo finished within half a tenth of each other but a second slower than Lorenzo Baldassarri’s best time from Friday evening. Brad Binder looked on course to top the session on his final lap and add to KTM’s jubilation but crashed in final corner and had to settle for eighth.

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2019 Qatar Moto2 FP2 Result: Baldassarri To The Fore

As night fell over the Losail circuit, the intermediate class came out to play and a handful of riders shared the spoils throughout the second session of the day. Sam Lowes was the early leader, after sorting out the technical gremlins that robbed him of a shot at a fast time in the afternoon session. The final ten minutes of FP2 brought on a time attack for privileged positions with an eye on qualifying, which dethroned the Gresini rider and eventually crowned Lorenzo Baldassarri as the fastest man of the day.

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2019 Qatar Moto2 FP1 Result: Dibs To Schrotter

The wind in Losail was no match for the enthusiasm of the intermediate class and one man who was keen to get back to familiar pastures was Tom Luthi, the MotoGP renegade leading the way for the Dynavolt squad for much of the session. However, the pastures were not all that familiar since the new season means Triumph making their loud entry in Moto2, marking a fresh start for the entire field. Teammate Marcel Schrotter took over top honours in the final few minutes of the session and led by two tenths of a second by the checkered flag.

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The Comprehensive 2019 MotoGP Season Preview: High Hopes And Realistic Expectations

It is tempting before each season to say that this is going to be the best season ever. It is a phrase that oscillates somewhere between hope and expectation, though more often than not, it is hope which has the upper hand. The 2019 MotoGP season promises to swing the balance back toward expectation, as the sport goes from strength to strength.

The reason MotoGP went from having 17 bikes on the grid in 2010 and the races decided virtually by qualifying position is simple. Thanks to a mixture of coaxing and cajoling, bribing and bullying, Dorna managed to get most of the rule changes they wanted. First, a switch back to 1000cc, bore limited to impose a theoretical rev limit (which has remained theoretical, as revs soar back above 18,000). Next, the adoption of spec electronics, forced through with the threat of CRT bikes, along with a promise by the factories to supply bikes at an affordable price.

Then the introduction of the more user-friendly Michelin tires. The concession system, whereby successful factories have engine designs frozen, giving less successful factories a chance to catch up. And finally, an influx of talent to fill a field of closely competitive bikes.

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