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25 days ago
By motogp.com

Martin wins Spanish desert duel in opening Moto3™ race

Del Conca Gresini rider holds the lead down to the wire in tense opening race of #QatarGP

Taking his second ever Moto3™ victory in scintillating style, Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) took 25 points at the Grand Prix of Qatar as he waited four months to secure his first back-to-back victory. Holding his lean to the line, he was able to start the season in the best possible way, beating compatriot Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) who took home second.

Moto3™: Martin wins battle to the line in Qatar

As Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) started pole position for the fifth time of his career, it was Martin who stormed off the line and despite not getting the holeshot – which went to Antonelli – he took an early lead, and pulled a gap of over half a second in the opening four laps. However he wasn’t to be left alone for long, as the duo of Canet and Italian Enea Bastianini (Leopard Racing) soon caught the Spanish rider at the front.

A six-wheeled battle for the victory soon became four wheeled, as Bastianini witnessed opening round heartbreak crashing out of second position on the sixth lap, leaving Martin and Canet to lead the way by half a second. The Spanish duo spent the next 11 laps of 18 pulling out a gap on their rivals with two mature displays of race craft, to cross the line over six seconds ahead of the rest of the field.

A six-wheeled battle for the victory soon became four wheeled, as Bastianini witnessed opening round heartbreak crashing out of second position on the sixth lap, leaving Martin and Canet to lead the way by half a second. The Spanish duo spent the next 11 laps of 18 pulling out a gap on their rivals with two mature displays of race craft, to cross the line over six seconds ahead of the rest of the field.

Canet: "My bad start cost me"

Martin seemed to take control of the race and secure the lead for the majority of the 18 laps, but Canet certainly hadn’t given up as he stayed on his tail until the closing laps. Coming down to the wire, Martin led over the line for the penultimate lap and began to open up a slight gap over his fellow Honda rider through the first sector. Ultimately Martin held his advantage, with a stunning corner speed through the all important turn 15, and he sealed the victory after a drag to the line, by just 0.023 ahead of Canet to take the first honours of 2018.

Dalla Porta: "It was difficult to defend my position"

Third position and the final spot on the podium was a sensational battle, as five riders became nine and they began the battle under the sunny skies of Qatar in a bid to take the final trophy, swapping paint on each lap. Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing), Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse), Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA BOE Skull Rider), Fabio di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3), Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia), Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing), John Mcphee (CIP – Green Power) and Marco Bezzecchi (PruestlGP) were locked in the fight, with McPhee falling victim to the tight fight and crashed in the final lap.

As the riders hurtled around the 5.3km Losail International Circuit, it was Dalla Porta who secured his debut podium finish and was victor of the sensational battle. Taking third position by only 0.045s, it was a true test of slipstream over the line in Qatar for the Italian. Pole man Antonelli took fourth position, ahead of Argentinean and opening lap race leader Rodrigo in fifth. It was a stunning display from Di Giannantonio, as he zoomed up from 16th position on the grid to take a top six finish, whilst Toba took seventh position on the line.

Compatriot Sasaki was eighth in the opening race of the season, as Kornfeil took ninth and Andrea Migno (Angel Nieto Team Moto3) rounded out the top ten. Adam Norrodin (Petronas Sprinta Racing) was a distant 11th position, ahead of Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) in 12th, Kazuki Masaki (RBA BOE Skull Rider) and Bezzecchi who rejoined the race following a final lap crash to take 14th. Spanish youngster Marcos Ramirez (Bester Capital Dubai) was the final points scorer in the first Moto3™ race of the season.

It was a difficult debut outing for Darryn Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Philipp Oettl (Sudmetal Schedl GP Racing), as the duo were involved in a collision on the fourth lap and were unable to rejoin the Grand Prix of Qatar. Whilst Nicolo Bulega (SKY Racing Team VR46) lost control of his KTM through turn two meaning the Italian also left Qatar with zero points scored. Rookie Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) was another victim of turn six, crashing out on his debut.

#QatarGP: Watch the thrilling Moto3™ in Losail

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