Fabio Quartararo fought his way through to win an action packed Doha Grand Prix while Johann Zarco Pramac teammate Jorge Martin stole second place with a retirement on the final lap.
Quartararo slipped from fifth on the grid to seventh with a slow start in the early stages of the competition. The Yamaha man ran with teammate Maverick Vinales as the M1 factory duo struggled to make progress.
Almost every lap, the positions among the leading group of nine riders, including all four Ducati riders and the Aprilia from Suzuki and Aleix Espargaro, changed positions.
Martin led the majority of the encounter from pole position as most of the field focused on saving the rubber for the final laps. The Ducati’s insurmountable power set their rivals back a little.
Quartararo eventually decided to pull the pin when the race was in for the final laps. The Frenchman had moved up to fourth place before finishing third when Francesco Bagnaia ran far at Turn 1 with only a few tours left.
At this point in the race, the M1 could have a visibly higher cornering speed than the fading Ducati, so Quartararo was only able to shoot past Zarco a few laps before he pushed Martin off the lead with a bold move at corner 4 and immediately made good escape over the last couple of circulations.
Martin tried in vain to stay close enough to the Yamaha to get past on the way towards Turn 1, but it shouldn’t be, and let him try to defend his second position from Pramac teammate Zarco.
The double Moto2 world champion had taken better care of his tires on the last lap and was looking for a round. Finally, he used his chance in the penultimate corner before successfully capturing his second runner-up in a row ahead of Martin – a very first podium in just his second MotoGP start.
Quartararo had meanwhile crossed the finish line 1.5 seconds earlier, his first for the factory Yamaha squad and the fourth of his career in the premier class to complete the Qatar double for the Japanese manufacturer.
Alex Rins took the checkered flag in fourth after trying to use his mid-race speed, while Vinales completed the top 5 after making some key mistakes on recent tours trying to find a way to find past the two Pramac Desmosedici.
Bagnaia was sixth ahead of Mir after the reigning MotoGP World Champion met Jack Miller’s Ducati at the end of the last corner.
Miller tried to run the Suzuki wide apart as they left the corner side by side, although the two were briefly connected and lost momentum. As a result, both fell outside the top 6, robbing them of any chance of a podium.
Brad Binder saved a tough pair of Qatar games for KTM with a strong run to eighth from a fading Miller while Aleix completed the top ten for Aprilia.
Enea Bastianini came home 11th for Avintia Ducati, while a potentially strong run for Pol Espargaro came to an end after going far on Turn 1 in the closing stages when he caught the lead group and brought him back to 13th.
Struggling to move up from his low starting position in 21st place to capture the flag just outside the points in 16th place, Valentino Rossi ended a disastrous day for the Petronas SRT team with Franco Morbidelli in 12th place .
Alex Marquez and Iker Lecuona were the only failures of the race. The double MotoGP podium finisher crashed his Honda again in the middle of the race, while it was canceled shortly afterwards.
Zarco’s double-second position from Qatar means he leads the drivers’ standings with 40 points in two weeks towards Portimao, while Quartararo’s win puts him in second place overall, just four points behind Vinales.