2019 Qatar MotoGP Race Result: A Magnificent Deja Vu

The floodlights of Qatar raised the bar early for every other race on the calendar after a masterpiece reminiscent of 2018 but closer and tighter, the classic final corner showdown matched by the closest top 15 in the history of the premier class. Andrea Dovizioso made sure to keep Losail as Ducati’s playground but Marc Marquez gave his absolute best to prevent that and came within two hundredths of a second a victory that has eluded him since 2014. Dovizioso came out as the winning party of yet another final lap spectacle against the world champion, while Cal Crutchlow’s confidence was boosted by a podium in his first race back from serious injury.

The race had drama even before it started, Fabio Quartararo stalling on the line on the warm up lap and swapping a second row start to a pitlane one. Back on the main piece of tarmac, Dovizioso’s mythical holeshot device seemed to be working perfectly, the Italian robbing poleman Maverick Vinales into turn one. The Yamaha man started going backwards already and his dreams of an early escape ended up in sixth place by the end of lap one. Marquez held station in third after the start, behind Jack Miller and with the fellow Hondas of Cal Cructhlow and Takaaki Nakagami waiting to bite. While Vinales was still finding his feet, both Suzukis made it past him, Joan Mir ahead of Alex Rins and Danilo Petrucci dragging a fast starting Valentino Rossi into the top ten. Back at the front, Marquez kept Miller busy but the battle was decided when Miller got distracted by his seat pad coming lose and dropped back to 11th place.

It looked like the calm before the storm at the front, Dovizioso leading Marquez within two tenths of each other while the Suzukis were storming past Crutchlow. Rins went a step further and was attacking Marquez by the middle of lap five. Like Quartararo was demonstrating some 20 positions behind, the leading group was biding its time about two seconds off race pace, but Rins was not all that patient and attacked for the lead for the first time at the end of lap five. Dovizioso easily resumed position on the straight while Marquez, Mir, Crutchlow and Petrucci patiently followed. Vinales was stuck in seventh and being hunted down by teammate Rossi and apprentice Franco Morbidelli. Rins and Marquez started harassing each other for the next few laps, while Petrucci also got a taste for overtakes a couple places behind but Mir was not making life easy for the Italian.

By lap eighth, Rins was briefly back in the lead but his ambitions seemed to be using up more tyre than the veteran championship contenders around him. While Dovizioso and Rins were keen to show the way and kept exchanging positions, Marquez appeared to be playing the waiting game in third, at least while Mir and Petrucci didn’t show much initiative. That changed on lap ten, when Petrucci pulled a clinical move on the world champion, demoting him to fourth, prompting the Spaniard into showing some enthusiasm. The Honda getting the better of the Ducati on the straight of all places and then block passed Rins soon after.

The pace was starting to warm up at the halfway mark of the race, frontrunners dipping into the 1:55s, Dovizioso and Marquez finding a half second gap on Petrucci, Rins and Crutchlow. Mir was another stone’s throw away, trailed by three Yamahas, Vinales ahead of Rossi and Morbidelli but the trio looked to be losing touch with the podium battle in the final ten laps.

Back at the front, Dovizioso’s stopped testing the opposition and slowed down once again, backing Marquez into Rins, Petrucci, and Crutchlow, creating the illusion that Mir and the factory Yamahas still had a word to say in the podium configuration. The Italian’s plan made it an eight-man lead group once again, Rins like a puppy persistently biting at Marquez’s slippers in the battle for second, while Petrucci and Crutchlow were replicating that just behind. Their next problem was Rossi, who made it past Vinales and Mir in quick succession and edged closer to the top five.

Timesheets went red with four laps remaining, the lead group reduced to six as Vinales and Mir lost touch by a second while Dovizioso and Marquez prepared for one of their classics at the front, if Crutchlow, Rins, Petrucci and Rossi were not going to disagree. Vinales did wake up in the final three laps to post his fastest times but it was too little too late to make an impact on the podium.

A mistake from Dovizioso in turn six on the penultimate lap made the decision on when to attack for Marquez and the Spaniard turned into the mouse rather than the cat. However, Tom got one back over Jerry at the final visit into turn one, when the Ducati fired past the Honda. The final lap was riddled with slides and wiggles for Marquez but the world champion held on for the last corner showdown, the two rivals crossing the finish line side by side. Crutchlow’s stoic defence of third place almost got overshadowed by the Qatar 2018 replica up front, while Rins must be disappointed to miss out on the podium. Rossi’s breathtaking charge to fifth brought him only six tenths of a second away from victory.

After shining in practice, Petrucci looked most glum after finishing sixth but not as disappointed as the poleman, Vinales crossing the line seventh. Mir was ninth and five seconds off the win in his MotoGP debut, while Takaaki Nakagami and Aleix Espargaro completed the top ten. A bit lower down the order but still into the points was Lorenzo in 13th place on his Honda debut, while Quartararo just missed out on points after his admirable recovery job.

Dovizioso leaves Qatar as the championship leader, while Marquez will be hoping for revenge in more ways than one in Argentina.

Results:

Pos. Num. Rider Bike Gap
1 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati 42'36.902
2 93 Marc MARQUEZ Honda +0.023
3 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW Honda +0.320
4 42 Alex RINS Suzuki +0.457
5 46 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha +0.600
6 9 Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati +2.320
7 12 Maverick VIÑALES Yamaha +2.481
8 36 Joan MIR Suzuki +5.088
9 30 Takaaki NAKAGAMI Honda +7.406
10 41 Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia +9.636
11 21 Franco MORBIDELLI Yamaha +9.647
12 44 Pol ESPARGARO KTM +12.774
13 99 Jorge LORENZO Honda +14.307
14 29 Andrea IANNONE Aprilia +14.349
15 5 Johann ZARCO KTM +15.093
16 20 Fabio QUARTARARO Yamaha +15.905
17 88 Miguel OLIVEIRA KTM +16.377
18 17 Karel ABRAHAM Ducati +22.972
19 53 Tito RABAT Ducati +23.039
20 55 Hafizh SYAHRIN KTM +43.242
    Not Classified    
  38 Bradley SMITH Aprilia 2 Laps
  43 Jack MILLER Ducati 10 Laps
  63 Francesco BAGNAIA Ducati 13 Laps
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Round Number: 
1
2019
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Total votes: 68

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Comments

Good race from Dovi and Márquez, I suspect we’ll see this cat and mouse act a few times again this season. Rossi deserves special mention, he’d have done well to finish 5th from a front row start, but to do it from 14th and beat his pole-sitting teammate into the bargain, that’s class.

Total votes: 41

Yeah, I think the odds for another championship for Rossi at this point are probably dim at best, statistically speaking. But the guy is 40 years old. This kind of result is simply incredible.

I find the closest analogy to be Keith Richards/Mick Jagger. Those guys (Mick especially) move almost like they always did, at what, damn near 80?

Total votes: 12

Thanks Zara and everybody involved, that was worth getting out of bed for.

I agree with what Lilyvani said. Go V.R.46, must do better in qualifying.

Tough luck Jack Miller. Seems as though he needed that seat component, needed it to stay in place on the bike.

Great result for Cal Crutchlow. very impressive return after a big fast crash & nasty injury.

Maverick still needs better starts. I'm sure he knows that. Hope his confidence is OK.

Bad luck for Fab Q, hope the next race goes better, F. Q.63 was ahead of Jorge Lorenzo at one point. That seemed to fire up Señor Chuppa Chup.

Total votes: 20

I'm not sure i want to see 18 more races where the pace is about 1,5 seconds down from projected race pace in order to save the tires and then the actual race happens in the last 3 laps. It's utterly frustrating and disappointing.

Besides that, it was indeed a deja vu. Well almost : the suzukis are on fire!

Great to see Crutchlow on the podium just thinking what he went through over the winter. Scary to see the Honda so fast and powerful: i don't think Dovi will be ble to stop Marquez. As a matter of fact Dovi might even lose this victory if the manufactures follow through with the complaint about ducati irregular fairing : crazy! 

The craziest though was Miller: he should be penalised, he was reckless and dangerous. You don't just sit up in the middle  of the pack and then as a bonus you throw a big chunk of your bike at someone's head. Unbelievable. It must be sanctioned

The last 3 laps: very exciting! And a very well deserved podium in that order. 

I can hardly imagine the disapppintment and frustration in the Yamaha garage both Rossi and Vinales were lucky that the pace was so slow. But the result is proof that they still are in deep troubles. What a shame to see them struggle and unable to find a solution. 

Looking forward to reading  your report David

Cheers

 

 

 

Total votes: 45

Not sure if the slow pace at the front has bunched up the field, but the midfield finishing 15 odd seconds off the winner suggests the also-rans are catching up this season and should be feeling pretty happy with their progress; better than positions and points imply.

Total votes: 7

mgm The race pace was slow because nobody wants to crash on the season opener. Plus there was still doubts in the back of the mind about dew forming at some point in the race. As for Miller he was in an impossible situation with more chance him falling off the bike if he didn't get rid of the part when he did. Race direction won't penalise him as it was not his fault, probably have a word with Pramac for not putting out a fit to purpose bike but that's racing these things happen.

Great rides by Dovi and Marquez but ride of the night definitely goes to Crutchlow. His ankle was completely shattered, the x rays looked like someone had smashed it with a mallet! Held together with metal plate that may need to stay in indefinitely, he rode a brave race gave it everything as if his career depended on it.

Regarding Yamaha yes it was poor not even getting a podium but i think the tricky night time conditions unique to Qatar was mainly the problem along with top speed deficit to Honda & Ducati. You are wrong about Rossi as he came from 14th (13th with Quartararo starting in the pits) all the way to 5th just behind Rins on the finish line. It was a magnificent race by Rossi and in Argentina in the day time conditions he will be fighting for the podium and maybe win. Vinales on the other hand was very poor from 1st on the grid to 7th, same as last year he just can't ride the start of the race with full tank of fuel. If Rossi finishes ahead again this season and Quartararo & Morbidelli get some good results i can see Vinales seat being taken by one of the two in 2021.

Total votes: 9

I sort of agree with mgm, the cat-and-mouse tire preservation game makes the race close but somewhat tedious.

I wonder: David, is the entire grid playing that game, or is Nakagami (for example) going all-out in 9th from the start? I have to assume that even further down, the KTM guys are just trying to put together fast laps, and maybe aren't even able to kill their tires prematurely. Please weigh in.

Total votes: 18

> ... tire preservation game makes the race close but somewhat tedious.

If they could have gone quicker (over the whole race) they would have. Nobody wants 6 other riders nipping at their heels.

Maybe you found it tedious because it was a very clean and controlled race - very little barging, no major falls, just nice clean swoops and braking. A lot to admire there, with plenty of skill on show, particularly Rins' corner speed.

I enjoyed it.

Total votes: 35

Pretty much fell asleep. It was a procession. It's more akin to watching F1 than Motogp. Of course I'm not writing off the season but Moto2 seemed more exciting and I enjoyed the WSBK race as well that happened a few weeks ago. It was definitely a great last few laps. Marquez must be fuming. He got schooled properly again. I however am convinced he's not worried as he has claimed this track to be a track that's not too kind to the Honda. But with 2 Hondas on the podium and Cal's utterly magnificent ride it seems from my armchair Honda is on top!

Total votes: 38

Was sad to see Petrux utterly dejected at the end. Cal what an epic ride!! Rider of the day for me. Where the heck did Rossi come from? Honestly I am a bit shocked but time and time again I tell myself I should not because if anyone can pull a rabbit out of the hat come race day it's the 40 year old youngster. Was really surprised and disappointed at Vinales's performance. Is it safe to say Yamaha haven't really sorted things out? Was a bummer for Fabio Quartrararo. But he showed he has the skill and speed! Alex Rins well done Suzuki really needs some horsepower. Aprilia and KTM were the big disappointers for me especially KTM since they are throwing everything at their race program! Bring around Argentina! At least this coming weekend is F1 and WSBK so I will get my racing fix in!

Total votes: 14

I just noticed the new and controversial winglets are the only aero on the unsprung parts. Could it be that the downforce effect is enhanced by acting directly on the front axle and swing arm? 

Total votes: 9

I see a lot of comments complaining about a slow race for the first 20+ laps.   

Yes, tyre management is a consideration but please also take into account Dovi was deliberately trying to back Marquez into the pack behind him to make Marquez fight with Rins, Petrucci and Crutchlow to let himself keep his rubber fresher for the end.   

Seemed to work out pretty well as a tatic for my perch.  

Total votes: 7

The tire game was well on display at both ends of the grid. Dovi deliberately kept the pace slow until mid race when he ran a couple of fast laps then slowed to the 56's again. Meanwhile Quartararo ran his fastest laps (and the fastest lap of the race) while trying to make up for his pit lane start. Of course his tires were finished pretty quickly after that causing his pace to fall through the floor. I was surprised that Dovi and MM couldn't manage anything better than mid 55's when they stepped up their pace with 7 laps to go. The Suzukis were impressive and they should get a win or two this season. I never expected Mir to be that good! It is hard to explain Maverick's difficulties during the race, or Rossi's sudden Sunday competitiveness... 

Total votes: 5

About dovi and mm not managing many fast laps: more "unified" electronics?  It's been written over and again that both manufacturers had an advantage in the past 2 years. 

I'm just guessing. 

Still,  18 more races of neverneding processions in order to save the tires does not make me too happy. And poor Rins: trying to break away and just being brought back into the fold god forbid he dares going faster in the low 55...

 

Total votes: 8

enjoyed the 3 races - Toba's Win, Baldassarri holding off Luthi, another Dovi vs Marquez last lap battle, Crutchlow on the podium after coming back from a horrendous injury, Mir in the top 10 pretty solidly, Quartararo's run through the field, Rossi's 5th place from his horrible qualifying, Rins' looking very fast.

This year's race was 2+ seconds slower than last year's race, but both KTM and Aprilla decreased their gap to the front - Aprilla from 34.712 to 9.636 and KTM from 31.704 to 12.774

Total votes: 9

I thoroughly enjoyed all the races. The winter break was way too long for me and too short for the riders and teams no doubt. One may complain about a tedious procession prior to hell let loose in the dying phases of the race. I don't see it that way. I think it was the late Barry Sheene who said 'send it but don't bend it'. It may have also been him that said something to the effect that the idea is to win the race at the slowest pace possible, a philosophy I for one subscribe to. Dovi certainly got that right on the night and Marc came ever so close following Dovi's race strategy. Marc is one very smart multiple world champion. Aero blah! Storm in a teacup. With the exception of Yamaha, the rest complain about nothing. Crikey, they can put rings and trinkets on their swingarms and forks too... The GP 19 needs some attention paid to Miller's seat unit. Surely that was a schoolkid error within his crew. I'd like to know what went wrong with Peco's bike. That would be of concern to Ducati heirarchy.  Rossi, Cal, well done against the odds. KTM and Aprilia advanced slightly. Suzuki were realy impressive with Rins. With all the KTM investment, their GP bike remains in limbo. Their Moto2 bike has gone backwards with a pair of great factory riders on board. Their Moto3 bike is certainly not on par with the Honda in any aspect. KTM have a huge problem, rather than the euphemism 'challenge'. Maybe they should do a few independent tests with Ohlins or Showa suspension options vs white power. Pride commeth before a fall. They are overstretched in GP and their situation currently looks like an upside down pyramid. Way too heavy at GP top side and too little M3 and M2 bottom up. Anyway, I for one enjoyed the season opener.

Total votes: 5

I suppose races have always been run to some form of limitations  If it was not the tires it was fuel consumption, just general mechanical longevity  or something else. At least Motogp still has a huge rider involvement unlike F1 or other 4 wheeled motor sport and for me that makes all the difference  There will always be an aspect in motorsport that will voicemail ultimate pace. Right now it is tires. It'll be something else in the future. 

Total votes: 9

you guys are harsh.It was cold and you could see there was lots of sand just of line.I think MM must be very very happy.The Honda is fast and he has completed a hard physical workout after a major shoulder operation.

Total votes: 10

I was expecting the victory of MM but Dovi did very well. They both remind be the old days Tom and Jerry. Last laps was very interesting.

Total votes: 0

Favorite? Rins smoking a spinning rear tire around sweeping turns near the end. The kid put it ALL out there. Nice job Suzuki (Mir as well!). Rins has the best Yamaha on the grid. (Were there Aprilias and KTMs racing too? Seemed to have missed that).

Crutchlow and Rossi were my next most interesting. Great Sunday showing, each for their own reasons. Really strong.

Poor Quartararo! He must have wanted to crawl into a trailer and hide. Keep your chin up kid. Lots of races ahead.

Lastly, the horsepower/drag race. Ducati and Honda are really close. Perhaps just a tad in Ducati's favor? Hard to call. What we do know however is that no one is in third. Suzuki has a good punch of usable power this year, gains have been made. But nowhere near the other two. Gap behind them perhaps to everyone else.

Poor Rins got his ass handed to him on every straight. Demoralizing. The Suzuki is GREAT all around, eager to see a dry win. The handling is unmatched. But this horsepower deficit is hard to overlook, it glares at you. Cheering for the wee team, hope for a closer drag race.

Total votes: 3