The first of three races in Qatar, the Moto3 race was a slipstream battle right from the start. Eventually, Joan Mir held off the chasing pack, which included Britain’s John McPhee, to take his 2nd career victory. McPhee joined him on the podium, with Jorge Martin in third place.
As was to be expected, hard moves came straight away and initially it was Jorge Martin leading the way from the likes of Romano Fenati, Joan Mir, Niccolo Antonelli and Bo Bendsneyder to name all but a few. As soon as the front straight came into view, there was six or seven abreast, with Martin be swallowed up and Mir taking the lead from him. Other names up there included Oettl, Di Giannantonio, Guevara, Norrodin, Sasaki, Canet and Migno.
Oettl took the lead briefly but then it was the sole surviving RBA machine of Juanfran Guevara at the head of the 13 man dice. Bo Bendsneyder was the first faller at turn six on lap four. He finished 26th and last.
Britain’s John McPhee hit the front on lap nine, ahead of Migno and Mir. The Scotsman had been setting faster laps than anyone else prior to reaching the lead of the race. It was a great debut for the British Talent Team as their rider did the business out front.
Joan Mir took the lead back on lap 11 on the home straight and despite moves during the other parts of the lap, it was Joan Mir who would hold on for victory. Further down however, Phillip Oettl was causing issues for Juanfran Guevara, who was unceremoniously wiped out by the 20-year-old German on lap 12.
So what did we learn from the Moto3 race? Joan Mir’s rookie season has definitely given him a platform to build on and he’s doing just that. The Leopard Honda team may however be concerned with their other rider, Livio Loi, who finished 12th and 17 seconds off the win.
Even greater concerns will be rocking the Estrella Galicia squad, after their big signing, Enea Bastianini, finished 16th and out of the points. The Italian has never started the season outside of the points and has a lot of ground to make up if he is to challenge for the title. Likewise for Bulega who was 14th who heads to Argentina with a lot of work to do.
John McPhee looks like he is back from his injuries of last season. The wee McPhee was going well and that could be a sign of things to come this season. Now that he has the momentum, McPhee will be looking to build on that one win to his name.
But for me, Mir is the man in fine form. Even coming into this season through pre-season and last year’s campaign, he has an aura about him that oozes confidence and success. He and Jorge Martin could be the riders to beat in 2017. But, you can never rule out Fabio Di Giannantonio who has a habit of coming through the field like the proverbial hot knife.
Overall, it could be argued that we learnt absolutely nothing because the Qatari Grand Prix is a strange race. Unique for being under floodlights at night time and also because it’s the first race of the season, so some of the big names are blowing all the cobwebs off. We will have a clearer picture of what is going to happen when he get to Europe. After all, the first three races are all about staying safe and collecting points. Conservation could prove to be a champion ride for some.
Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko