DOHA: Despite a difficult first lap, pole winner Esteve Rabat produced an otherwise excellent ride to edge Takaaki Nakagami on the last corner, with Rabat’s team-mate Mika Kallio finishing third.
Rabat (Marc VDS Racing Team) aims to win the title this year after emerging as a Moto2 race winner last season and he looked threatening throughout the Qatar weekend, ultimately beating Nakagami (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) to the line by 0.04s after they had battled for the lead for several laps.
Rabat ran wide on the first lap and dropped to fifth but just had too much for his closest rival over the 20 lap contest.
Rabat said: “I am happy that I raced well after many riders went past me. I did well. I had good rhythm. I was in the front and in the end I take the race. Nakagami finished the race well. I am happy with this result.”
Kallio: “It is nice to finish on the podium. I tried to beat the others but I couldn’t do it. They were fast in the last 2-3 laps. It was better to take the points with third place finish.”
Nakagami will have to go again at round two in Austin as a race win escaped him by the finest of margins. Finnish rider Kallio will also be looking for wins in 2014 having finished a second behind the front two.
Three seconds further back in fourth place was Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2), the Swiss rider crossing the line thee tenths ahead of Moto3 World Champion Maverick Viٌales (Pons HP 40) who made an excellent Moto2 debut.
Simone Corsi (NGM Forward Racing) ran well in sixth, from 10th on the grid, beating debutant Sam Lowes (Speed Up) who also performed solidly in his first Grand Prix.
The top ten was completed by Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP), Jordi Torres (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2) and Anthony West (QMMF Racing Team).
Cortese dropped to eighth after starting second on the grid with an injured foot and did well to finish in extreme pain. A disastrous start for the AirAsia Caterham Moto Racing team saw Josh Herrin and Johann Zarco crash on the first lap, with Alex De Angelis (Tasca Racing Moto2) and Xavier Simeon (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) also involved. Gino Rea and Mashel Al Naimi had stopped mid-race with technical problems, whilst with 8 laps to go in Axel Pons and Marcel Schrotter crashed out.
Dominique Aegerter pulled off with 5 laps to go, smoke pouring from his exhaust, ending his long run of consistent point scoring finishes. Nico Terol was also affected by mechanical problems at a similar stage of the race and he will look to bounce back next time out at the Circuit of the Americas where he won last year.