Desert Stormed; First Blood to Vinales

Rain, delays, uncertainty and a decision for a slightly shortened race distance prefaced the 20 laps that then blew the drama out the water: MotoGP is back for 2017, and in some style. After stealing the headlines throughout preseason, Maverick Viñales retains them after his first win for Yamaha but easy it wasn’t, as the polesitter fought it out with Andrea Dovizioso in an awesome desert duel. Valentino Rossi completed the podium in third after coming back from P10 on the grid.

 

A stunning start from Andrea Iannone from P2 was soon overshadowed as rookie Johann Zarco slammed into the lead in the first laps, getting away and making a gap as Viñales found himself falling back into the clutches of his teammate. But despite an incredible display, the fairytale came to an early end for the Frenchman as he slid out of the lead soon after leaving ‘DesmoDovi’ out front. With the number 4 Ducati getting away in the lead, Iannone then crashed out of the fight for second leaving reigning champion Marc Marquez, Viñales and Rossi chasing the leading Desmosedici. After a classic scuffle between the number 46 and 93, the ‘Doctor’ set off in pursuit of his teammate. It wasn’t long, however, before there was some fresh air between lead two and the number 46 – with a duel setting in that saw Viñales’ corner speed pitched against the sheer might of the Ducati. After trading places for a few laps and the race impossible to call, the Spaniard was then able to hold off the Italian on the penultimate lap and made it to the line to take his second MotoGP win, and his first in Yamaha colours.

 

Marquez crossed the line fourth, just ahead of teammate Dani Pedrosa by the flag who took fifth after getting the better of Aleix Espargaro. Espargaro’s result was a historic first top six for Aprilia in the stunning first ride in Noale colours for the rider from Granollers. Impressive performances from Scott Redding and Jack Miller saw the two men come home in P7 and P8, with Alex Rins top rookie in P9 just ahead of Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Jonas Folger, who completed the top ten. Jorge Lorenzo went wide on the first lap after a solid start, down to near the back of the grid after carefully rejoining and then beginning a steady fight back through the field. Up into tenth with 12 laps to go, the ‘Spartan’ crossed the line in P11 by the end of play. Cal Crutchlow crashed out of contention before rejoining and then suffering the same fate, with Alvaro Bautista crashing out soon after, as well as Octo Pramac Racing rider Danilo Petrucci, joining Iannone and Zarco on the list of unluckies in round one, but sure to be back for more next time out.

 

Pos.

Rider

Team

Time/Gap

1

Maverick VIÑALES Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 38’59.999

2

Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati Team +0.461

3

Valentino ROSSI Movistar Yamaha MotoGP +1.928

4

Marc MARQUEZ Repsol Honda Team +6.745

5

Dani PEDROSA Repsol Honda Team +7.128

6

Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia Racing Team Gresini +7.661

7

Scott REDDING OCTO Pramac Racing +9.782

8

Jack MILLER EG 0,0 Marc VDS +14.486

9

Alex RINS Team SUZUKI ECSTAR +14.788

10

Jonas FOLGER Monster Yamaha Tech 3 +15.069

11

Jorge LORENZO Ducati Team +20.516

12

Loris BAZ Reale Avintia Racing +21.255

13

Hector BARBERA Reale Avintia Racing +28.828

14

Karel ABRAHAM Pull&Bear Aspar Team +29.123

15

Tito RABAT EG 0,0 Marc VDS +29.470

16

Pol ESPARGARO Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +33.601

17

Bradley SMITH Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +39.704

18

Sam LOWES Aprilia Racing Team Gresini +47.131
Danilo PETRUCCI OCTO Pramac Racing 6 Laps
Andrea IANNONE Team SUZUKI ECSTAR 10 Laps
Alvaro BAUTISTA Pull&Bear Aspar Team 13 Laps
Johann ZARCO Monster Yamaha Tech 3 14 Laps
Cal CRUTCHLOW LCR Honda 16 Laps

 

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