A couple of weeks have passed by since we tuned into the Qatar Grand Prix and I must say, it was a bloody good weekend of racing. People don’t particularly like Losail and they often complain about the lack of fans but in 2018, Qatar came alive to the beat of the drum, which was every overtaking manoeuvre out on track.
So what did we learn in Moto3? Well the first thing is that Jorge Martin wasn’t messing when he won the last race of the year. Martin started 2018 with a win in style for the Gresini Racing team, beating compatriot Aron Canet by the smallest of margins. I we in for a Joan Mir replica? It is too soon to say but Martin looks quick, very quick.
We also saw that despite the hype, Enea Bastianini hasn’t shook off his reputation as having bad starts to his seasons. Another poor result, this time a crash, left the Italian in the desert, isolated from the top of the standings. Bastianini has to come back in Argentina and be on the podium and if possible, he must win. He must stop the rot and take control of the stranglehold that Jorge Martin has on the series.
From one Italian to another, we also learnt that Niccolo Antonelli was well and truly back in the mix, having started from pole and finished the race in 4th. It could be seen as a make or break season for Antonelli, who starts 7th season in the Moto3 class. 4th is nonetheless a solid start and one that he and Sic58 Squadra Corsa outfit will look to build on as the season unfolds.
One other thing we may be able to withdraw is that Gabriel Rodrigo looks like he has finally settled down. The Argentine, who heads to his home circuit soon, didn’t crash or show signs of crashing, like he had done before when placed in a large, hungry and savage-like group. Rodrigo kept a cool head and, much like Antonelli, rode him to take some solid points in 5th place. Despite never scoring points in Argentina, that won’t hinder him putting on a show.
The Japanese are coming! Kaito Toba and Ayumu Sasaki were running well on the pace in 7th and 8th place respectively at Losail, completing the race in those positions. There will be tracks at points this season where slipstreaming will decide who wins a race, e.g, Mugello, and we may well see two Japanese riders on the podium for the first time in the lightweight class since Youichi Ui and Nobby Ueda were 1st and 3rd respectively at Welkom. The only other Japanese rider in the race was Kazuki Masaki, in 13th. Tatsuki Suzuki didn’t start.
So with all that to digest, I’ll say now that we can only look at some of that and take it accurately. Losail has never been a great yardstick and it is difficult to predict just who will come through. One thing is for sure though and that is that Jorge Martin is picking up where he left off at the end of last year, as he bids to become world champion.
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