Viñales Delivers Qatar Masterclass to Take Victory

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Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales delivered a masterclass in the opening round of the 2021 MotoGP World Championship at the Losail International Circuit, taking victory after a mid-race charge saw the Spaniard finish +1.092s clear of second place. Fabio Quartararo finished his factory Yamaha debut in fifth place. 

 It was a masterclass from Viñales, who controlled the pace with the softer Michelin rear tyre, opening a comfortable one-second advantage over the chasing pack. The nine-time premier class race-winner didn’t look back, taking an emphatic victory under the lights. Meanwhile, Quartararo had slipped to fifth place as he battled with Suzuki’s Alex Rins throughout the closing stages of the race. The Frenchman held on to complete his factory debut rounding out the top five.  

Petronas Yamaha SRT got their 2021 season underway with Valentino Rossi and Franco Morbidelli finishing the 22-lap Grand Prix in 12th and 18th places, respectively. The Doctor got his 26th Grand Prix racing career going with a bright start, although slipping to seventh, the 41-year-old stuck with his Yamaha counterparts before dropping further through the pack. The Italian recovered to take 12th place after losing a handful of positions after being forced wide at turn one mid-way through the race. Rossi’s countryman Franco Morbidelli suffered a technical failure on the grid but chose to start the Qatar Grand Prix to collect as much data ahead of round two next weekend at the same circuit. 

Viñales’ victory awards him 25 World Championship points and puts him at the top of the standings, while Quartararo sits in fifth 14 points adrift. Rossi collected four points in his SRT debut, whilst Morbidelli missed out on a point paying position. Yamaha and the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP team also lead the constructors and teams’ championship with 25 and 36-point totals after Round one. 

Maverick Vinales: “The race was especially good because I had the opportunity to fight with other riders, which is always important. It’s been a while since I last overtook so many riders in one race. Early on in the race, I felt this special feeling with the bike. Also in FP4 when we did the race simulation I felt fantastic and also in qualifying. I’m very grateful, because winning is not easy, so we are going to enjoy today. For the coming race we will work and try to improve again, because we know our competitors will also improve. I just want to say ‘congratulations’ to the team, because we did a good job this winter. I think this win is very good for the morale of the team, because it’s always important to trust ourselves. We still have some things to work on, especially on the race starts. But, overall, I think we can do a good job this season.”