Francesco Bagnaia took a major step forward towards retaining his MotoGP world title at the Lusail International Circuit when he finished runner-up to Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing) in this evening’s Grand Prix of Qatar. With his chief rival Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) finishing in tenth place, Bagnaia increases his lead over the Spaniard to 21 points, with the Valencia GP finale still to come.
Pecco got an outstanding start from P4 on the second row of the grid to take the holeshot into the first corner. He then pulled out a comfortable lead by the mid-point of the 22-lap race, as Martin got out of shape at the start and slipped down the field. Bagnaia looked to be heading comfortably towards another win until Di Giannantonio caught him and put him under pressure.
The Gresini Racing man clearly had a superior pace and passed Pecco on lap 19, but as they braked for Turn 1 Bagnaia was sucked into Di Giannatonio’s slipstream and almost lost control of his Desmosedici machine. Pecco went wide but did not lose too much time to third-placed Luca Marini (VR46 Racing) and he was able to finish second at the chequered flag. For Bagnaia, this is it's 14th podium in the premier class this season.
Enea Bastinianini had a great run from fifteenth place on the grid to finish eighth. The Rimini rider’s pace in the second half of the race was exceptional, and he twice set the fastest lap, establishing a new record in 1’52.978 on the final lap. Enea also helped teammate Bagnaia as he passed Martin for ninth place on lap 18.
Francesco Bagnaia (#1 Ducati Lenovo Team) – 2nd
“This is a fantastic result; it means we can arrive at Valencia with a bit of a gap in the championship. It will not be easy because 21 points are not enough to relax but we are happy with the work done, I was expecting this pace yesterday, but I wasn’t in the position to do it. We managed to do a great start and I had the possibility to show my pace which was incredible, the only thing was the mistake in Turn 1 when I got sucked by the slipstream of Fabio, it was a scary moment for sure and I lost a lot of time. I was lucky because with the pace we made, I had a big gap. I wanted to win, it was the only result for me, but I didn’t expect this amount of suction and I almost lost it. I think I was able to fight for this win, but second position is a really good result in any case.”
Enea Bastianini (#23 Ducati Lenovo Team) – 8th
“My race was tough especially at the start because it was very difficult for me to overtake the other riders and to arrive at my pace, but when the pace came in the middle of the race, I pushed a lot to close the gap from the other riders. I was really fast especially in the last five laps, when my feeling with the bike was amazing and I pushed really hard. I’m very happy about this but not about the weekend in general because it was difficult, and my speed arrived very late compared to the other races. The main problem was on Friday when I didn’t get into Q2 because of a yellow flag and also on Saturday, but my overall pace was not fast like the other riders. It came today but it was too late.”
The twentieth and final round of the MotoGP World Championship – the Valencia Grand Prix – will be held in one week’s time at Cheste’s Ricardo Tormo Circuit from 24-26 November.