2017 Qatar MotoGP Race Result: Damp Squib Turns Into Scintillating Season Start

Maverick Viñales has joined an illustrious list of names by winning his first MotoGP race with a new team, beating off Andrea Dovizioso in a thrilling battle at the end.

Viñales victory came after an improbable start to the race. The Moto3 and Moto2 races took place in near perfect conditions, but spots of rain started falling as the riders headed to the grid, with a second shower falling a little later. The start of the race was delayed twice, finally getting underway about 40 minutes late. By this time, the race had been shortened to twenty laps, with two warm up laps to get tires up to temperatures.

A win by Viñales had looked very far from certain at the start. Andrea Iannone got the holeshot with a brilliant start, leading Viñales and Marc Marquez into the first corner. But Johann Zarco was on his way, the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha putting on a superb display in his first race in the MotoGP class, and quickly taking the lead. Others chased, but Zarco eked away a lead little by little. 

Zarco's luck ran out on lap 6. The Frenchman washed the front out while had a lead of over a second, just misjudging the conditions. 

That handed Andrea Dovizioso the lead, who had just blasted past Marc Marquez along the front straight. Dovizioso pulled a small gap, while Marquez got tangled up with Andrea Iannone for second. But Marquez had switched from the hard to the medium front tire on the grid, and he was starting to run out of front grip. Marquez and Iannone battling allowed Maverick Viñales to close the gap, dragging along his teammate Valentino Rossi

Andrea Iannone was the first to leave the group, crashing out as he was forced to touch the front brake mid corner to avoid hitting the back of Marc Marquez. That allowed Viñales and Rossi to catch Marquez, and as the Repsol Honda rider struggled, the Yamaha riders made their way past. 

Rossi looked close to threatening Viñales, but never quite had the pace of his teammate. Viñales got tangled up with Dovizioso, passing the factory Ducati man in a series of brilliant passes through the back section of the track, but losing out on the front straight and into Turn 1 as the Italian used the superior horsepower of the Ducati and his ability on the brakes to hold Viñales at bay. But Viñales would not be denied. On the penultimate lap, he got past Dovizioso and held an advantage into Turn 1. From there, he managed the gap all the way home. 

Viñales became the first rider since Casey Stoner to win his first race after switching teams. Dovizioso was forced to settle for second, after choosing to run the soft rear and not quite making it last to the end. Valentino Rossi took the last spot on the podium, surprised to be there after a tough few practice sessions.

Marc Marquez crossed the line in fourth, some distance ahead of his teammate Dani Pedrosa. Pedrosa just managed to hold off a charging Aleix Espargaro, who recorded an outstanding result on his first ride on the Aprilia. Scott Redding took a very strong seventh, ahead of Jack Miller on the Marc VDS Honda. Alex Rins won the battle of the rookies, finishing just ahead of Jonas Folger, after battling with him all race. Jorge Lorenzo took a disappointing eleventh place on his first outing on the Ducati.


Pos No. Rider Bike Time/Diff
1 25 Maverick Viñales Yamaha 38'59.999
2 4 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati +0.461
3 46 Valentino Rossi Yamaha +1.928
4 93 Marc Marquez Honda +6.745
5 26 Dani Pedrosa Honda +7.128
6 41 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia +7.661
7 45 Scott Redding Ducati +9.782
8 43 Jack Miller Honda +14.486
9 42 Alex Rins Suzuki +14.788
10 94 Jonas Folger Yamaha +15.069
11 99 Jorge Lorenzo Ducati +20.516
12 76 Loris Baz Ducati +21.255
13 8 Hector Barbera Ducati +28.828
14 17 Karel Abraham Ducati +29.123
15 53 Tito Rabat Honda +29.470
16 44 Pol Espargaro KTM +33.601
17 38 Bradley Smith KTM +39.704
18 22 Sam Lowes Aprilia +47.131
Not Classified
  9 Danilo Petrucci Ducati 6 Laps
  29 Andrea Iannone Suzuki 10 Laps
  19 Alvaro Bautista Ducati 13 Laps
  5 Johann Zarco Yamaha 14 Laps
  35 Cal Crutchlow Honda 16 Laps


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Great race I'm stoked!

The Ducati still had the "salad box" & the offset rear exhuast but no hammerhead Aero ??

Johann Zarco remember "if you are fast & crash, you can learn not to crash"

Wow that was worth the wait.

Congratulations Aleix Espargaro & the Prilla team. Great result due to a lot of hard work & cleverness.

Sam Lowes was easy for me to predict, the front of the race at the strat was not what I predicted.

The weekend was a bit of a farce with the weather and chaos around the scheduling. But in the end, we got a barn stormer of a race with so many great stories.

Zarco leading on his debut and pulling away was a great sight. Gutted for him he binned it. Then the battle for the lead rest of the race was great viewing. Maverick was the favourite all weekend and in the end did it, but it's fair to say he was pushed much harder than expected.

Poor Dovi always seems like the nearly man around here, but terrific effort to hang on in there and really take it to Mav, very impressive ride. Absolutely blew away his new team mate, who had a nightmare performance, beaten by two rookies and almost dropped behind Baz at the end as well.

So many great rides. Rossi recovered well after a difficult weekend for a podium, a good platform to build on. Aleix Espargaro has to be rider of the race for taking Aprilla to 6th on geniune pace and finishing right behind the mighty Hondas. For a team that size, it's a heroric effort. I'd rate that as his best ride in MotoGP imo. If Iannone hadn't done his usual trick of throwing it into the scenery, we could've had 5 different manufactures in the top 7 places. That really bodes well for another really competitive season.

On last note, looking at the KTMs, that's a fairly decent result for them, just finishing a half minute off the win. Pretty sure other new bikes in recent years finished a lot further behind than that, so considering theit struggles around here, not a bad effort to build on.

This is going to be another really fun season. MotoGP is BACK!

What a race. Sooo many exciting things going on! Actually the final result does not even fully reflect how special this race was. Viñales won, but not at all as straightforward as expected. Rossi charging as agressive as a youngster once again and even ending up in the fight for victory. Zarco, unbelievable. That was mighty impressive riding. Iannone's superfast time in practice was not a total fluke after all, he was well in the front group. He seemed to really be able to pick different lines. In a way, that he crashed because he had to grab the front brake is encouraging. And Aleix on the Aprilia overtaking Pedrosa for 5th and eventually finishing right behind the two Repsol Hondas in 6th... One or two more laps and it would be him and Pedrosa fighting for 4th. Amazing performance.

Rossi on the podium and Marquez not. Who would have thought. And Lorenzo equalling Rossi's achievements, but not the way he planned. So far the Ducati still does not seem to fit Lorenzo, but these were highly unusual circumstances, even to Qatar standards. 

Look at the result of Quatar 2011. Rossi was Top Duc on P7. It is hardly comparable, aside from the fact that neither had a chance to win. Yet in 2011 noone else on the Duc either.

For the rest. Absolutely right.

Thanks, you're right, Rossi actually performed way better in his debut on the Ducati than Lorenzo. That GP11 was worse compared to the competition and he did not just get a better position, he also was closer to the winner (16.4 seconds to Lorenzo's 20.5 secs, even though this 2017 race was three and a half minutes shorter). I did not realise that. But I was thinking more in general terms, that Rossi struggled on the Ducati.

The best race bike on the grid 1st and 3rd in sequence as expected. Ducati and Dovi. Dovi is clearly the bloke they should throw the development of the bike into. Very hard, stable braking, hard acecleration and massive top end.. For them, trying to adapt it to a Lorenzo, or of yesteryear Rossi transition is not going to hapen. If Domenicali is smart, the team should focus 80% on Dovi's requests to 20% of Jorge's. Make no mistake, I have always been a big backer of Jorge, but he is not up for Ducati as Rossi was likewise not. Dovi is. The guy was always second fiddle in many teams but with maniac out of the way (in the gravel as usual), the writing is on the wall. Ducati should persue the championship like 2006 and 2007, nevermind the contractual money. Maybe VW/AUDI can level the remuneration playing field by giving huge rewards for podiums within the team. Ducati built a bike for Rossi, it was a failure. Gigi built, or rather, developed a bike for Lorenzo, it did not work tonight.. Dovi and Redding extracted its potential.  Iffy conditions don't faze them. I remember Dovi and George in 250cc 2 stroke and I never did rank one above the other, the dice fell where it fell. 

Ride of the Race: Vinales! He rode a very mature race and let the race come to him. He did not rush/panic to get to the front. I know that he is not a rookie but this race sent a message to everyone. Vinales is the real deal and he will be competitive all year.

Honorable mention: Rossi. He truly is a Sunday man. Rossi set in to the 2nd group after a decent start and rode a very smart race. It's too bad that Zarco and Ionanne tossed it down the road.

Aleix and Aprillia; Redding and Miller. Excellent top 10 finish.

The season is finally here.


Definitely New Era!
Congrats to Vinãles, he has something of the Stoner demeanour, therefore personal favourite.
Congrats to Zarco, would like to see that performance repeated with a happy ending --though maybe not many of his rivals. 
Congrats to Poncharal for his hawk-eye. He is becoming the Wise Man of the MotoGP, also for his role in IRTA.
Congrats to  DORNA. They managed to equal the odds, without losing a single factory team. And have ushered MotoGP into a New Era.
Congrats to Rossi? The Old Man has indeed a seventh gear in every race. Congratulations certainly, for he alone from the Old Era adopts and carries -almost- unperturbed on.
Congrats to all rookies. And Aleix. And Aprilia.
  1. Development of RCV should be taken off Marquez's hands and laid carefully into Pedrosa's. The fastest rider to never win the MotoGP championship and Stoner had created an unbeatable Honda, which Marquez managed to completely undo in two years –maybe less
  2. Scrap the denomination “alien”. We've now seen it is totally wrong and Unfair.

A request, if you please David: Lead us on a tour that sheds more light to "substance" of the rookies and the non “alien”. There is a lurking suspicion that at least some of them are more interesting than the Dukes and the Counts of the sport.

Vinales riding style - The Yamaha can be ridden a bit more rear - wheel in balance. He looks GREAT. He has good feel. Quite dynamic on the bike from braking to turn in. Smooth AND aggressive. His drive out is early and hard, quite exemplary. Comfortable with a wearing tire in changing conditions. Managed a few off line excursions beyond his experience with that bike. Beautiful throttle control and sensitivity. Bravo #25!

A.Espargaro and the Aprilia power delivery - wow! Beautiful.

Iannone/Suzuki - solid

KTM behavior on the gas...horrible wag and pump.

Cal displayed "the Honda crash" we can expect more of. Zarco bit off a bit much given the conditions, not a race to lead in early laps but the kid has guts and talent to spare - keep your chin up and grab a tow next time.

What happened for Beautista? I missed it. Anyone get a good look at Lorenzo's lean angles when he settled into a rhythm? Missed that too.

Dovi's tires looked ok at the end given how much of a difficulty that had been. He looked planted enough, more outdone by Maverick. When Vinales took EIGHT 10ths out of Dovi in one lap we saw something impressive. The Ducati power and top speed here are no small challenge, esp when coupled with Dovi's performance on the brakes today (wow!). Shots of Gigi can be greeted with the sounds of a scheming mad scientist's "mua hah hah!" His face reveals much even when he is covering it with hands...the eyes tell all. Burning desire and fervent intensity.

The last few laps showcased our new Alien well. Including some reserve and wisdom, smart strategy.

Why was Aleix in Parc Ferme?  The Aprillia's are a Factory team........

Finally, after a weekend of totally crazy weather and countless schedule changes and permanente uncertainty, we have had our racing!

Much to my relief, the racing was entirely exciting and featured several strong and impressive riders. Sure, Vinales won, but he had to work very hard for it, much harder than I expected after he dominated testing and the FP1 so easily. I had some doubts regarding whether he could win without simply checking out (as he did at Silverstone last year), but those are no more. He was fast, smart and opportunistic. I'm sure the whole field took notice of it.

Such a shame to see Zarco crash out, but to see him lead and ride such an impressive pace was terrific. Folger was also strong all weekend long. It seems as if Tech 3 have found a terrific pair with lots of potential.

Dovi and Rossi were fast and smart. Their podiums are deserved and bode well for different reasons. For one, the GP17 is clearly fast and capable, for the other, he has lost no speed and simply needs to find himself at ease with the M1.

Marquez' 4th was disappointing. Even though he admitted he made a wrong tyre choice, it still seamed as if the RC213V was simply slower than both the M1 and GP17. Marquez remains the title favourite, but his bid will more likely resemble the uphill struggles of 2015 and 2016 than the less challenging triumphs of 2013 and 2014. Honda has a lot of work to do.

I'm also pleased for Espargaro and Redding. 6th and 7th are solid results and give nice points, I hope they have more of these races in the future.


As for Qatar itself, I'm sure authorities and promoters are questioning the reasoning of running a night race. I don't really mind it, but the very real possibility of a postponed race makes their night racing schedule seem exageratedly vain and ridiculous. Heck, they have a huge impressive circuit built in the desert, how about showing it off than hiding it under floodlights? Qatar isn't Singapore to sparkle with sky scrappers and an incredible skyline. And even Abu Dhabi looks stupid and no lights disguise what a crap circuit it is. So my suggestion is that Qatar hold a regular day race both to avoid so much interruptions and weather troubles and also show off their massive circuit.


When I first saw the grid announcement placing Zarco near the front, I had an exciting flash image of him making a rocket start and getting out in front to lead in typical Zarco form. Surely he'll do that! He's a cool customer and confident and he's got nothing to lose! He's lurking back there on the next row thinking, "Nobody expects the French Inquisition!" I bet he goes for it! Then I doubted my thoughts - "Aw, Marquez and Vinales are too quick, and Zarco is new to the premier class. With their experience, they'll probably reclaim the lead by the second lap."

I was thrilled to see him "stamp his authority", as the announcer cliche goes, and I'm surely not alone in being disappointed when he folded up. I hope we see more from him. I bet he wins two races this year...

It would appear that the Losail circuit does not meet the FIM standards for drainage.  

Having witnessed the lakes and rivers after a heavy rain shower, does anyone really believe the following regulations have been met?

FIM Standards for Circuits:


A proper drainage system must ensure that the Race Track, Pit Lane, verges, run-off areas and gravel beds are cleared of any surface water.  When calculating the possible flow of water (dependent upon the intensity of rainfalls, their duration and the coefficient of flow) local climatic conditions must be respected.  A study of these local climatic conditions and the design of the drainage system must be submitted in the Circuit Dossier.  All the required drainage channels at the sides of the Race Track and between the verge and the first line of protection should be installed in such a way that the covers do not represent any step or bump for the motorbikes and riders that have lost the racing line: i.e. they must be covered by a smooth metal wire mesh, or an absorbent well must be used, in order to maintain, without any interruption, the normal surface of the verge and/or of the runoff area.

I once got some good advice from Alan Bradshaw (3rd Australian 125cc Gp 1983 Mt Panorama)

I asked "when slipstreaming, how close should I be" Mr Brakeshoe replied "close enough to take advantage if the rider in front makes a mistake. Not so close that you get caught up in his problem"

Wise words, I have never forgotten them. I think A.I.29 was a gnat's whisker too close.

looking forward to the midnight replay.

I made a mistake when I wrote "Alan Bradshaw (3rd Australian 125cc Gp 1983 Mt Panorama)"

When I tried to check I found Bradshaw finished second in 1982.

I still have a memory of A.B,33 third behind two MBA 125s.

How soon we forget, only 35 years ago.