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GP Week : Issue 148
The new 250 four-stroke Moto3 bikes have changed everything about the starter class for grand prix racing. Everything except the name at the top of the list. Spanish teenager Maverick Vinales won the closing two 125 races last year, swapped from two-stroke to four-stroke, and made it three in a row. The 17-year-old didn’t quite have it all his own way. He was last year’s rookie sensation. His rival at Losail was the rider destined to fill the same role this year ... Romano Fenati, 16, from Italy. With both riding FTR Hondas for different teams, the issue was in doubt until after halfway. Fenati led away while Vinales finished the first lap fourth. He was at once up to second, and closing a gap of more than 1.5 seconds to lead for the first time on lap six. But he couldn’t shake the younger rider off, and Fenati would lead again for two laps before Vinales swooped past for the last time on the 12th. From there he drew clear as Fenati’s lap times stretched, to win by better than four seconds. Fenati was still well over ten seconds clear of a fierce pursuit pack; seven- strong with just two laps remaining. A battle of barging, drafting and tactics finally resolved in favour of pole qualifier Sandro Cortese (KTM), two tenths ahead of Luis Salom (Kalex KTM), Miguel Oliveira (Suter Honda) and Zulfahmi Khairuddin (KTM) Fenati was not the only highly impressive rookie: Australian new boy Arthur Sissis 16, KTM) played a strong role in the group and threatened for the rostrum, before running wide and finishing at the back of the group. Danny Kent (KTM) and Louis Rossi (FTR Honda) were less than two seconds behind at the finish. A month or so ago there were still doubts whether Marc Marquez would be fit to run at the opening rounds, as his double vision problems lingered through the winter. The 19-year-old Spanish Repsol Suter rider proved the fears groundless ... and that he has lost none of his aggression during his recuperation. In a Moto2 race with a leading gang of eight at it almost to the end, he emerged victorious, after a brutal block-pass starting the last lap put pole starter Thomas Luthi (Suter) on the marbles and right off line into the first corner. The Swiss former 125 champion, who had led for the past four laps, finished fifth, shaking his head, and seeking out his rival for a most unfriendly slap on the arm on the cool-down lap. Chief beneficiary was Andrea Iannone (Speed Up), who was able to force past Marquez halfway round the last lap. He led out of the last corner, but the lighter Marquez out-accelerated him on the run to the line, to win by 0.061 seconds. Pol Espargaro (Kalex) was less than two seconds adrift, and narrowly ahead of Spanish compatriot and team- mate Esteve Rabat. The front pack had spread only in the closing stages, as Scott Redding (Kalex) pushed through to fifth, a couple of seconds down on Luthi but less than two tenths ahead of Mike di Meglio (Speed Up) and Simone Corsi (FTR). Bradley Smith (Tech 3) was ninth, after getting ahead of Alex de Angelis (Suter), who fell off trying to redress the balance. Mike Kallio (Kalex) was inches behind. Johann Zarco (Motobi) was 12th in his first race, while victorious former 125 rival Nico Terol (Suter) made a slow class debut in 23rd. MOTO3: MAVERICK START MOTO2: MARQUEZ STILL MERCILESS 26 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: MOTOGP >>> QATAR