MotoGP 2016 Losail Results

Bruce Allen
by Bruce Allen

Jorge Lorenzo kicks off 2016 with a gratifying win

The 2016 Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar marked the beginning of a new era in MotoGP, that of Michelin tires and standard electronics across the grid. In the run-up to the race, hopes that some new faces would emerge from the pack and find their way to the podium had been soaring. Under the lights of Losail, however, defending champion Jorge Lorenzo held serve for Yamaha against a strong challenge from Andrea Dovizioso and Marc Marquez; the Usual Suspects had once again asserted their dominance of the sport.

The boys are back in town.

Qualifying had produced an ethnically-striated grid – Spaniards filling up rows one and three, with an all-Italian second row and an all-British fourth. Lorenzo laid down a fast lap early in the session, as did Marquez a bit later, and both held up despite Maverick Vinales and Andrea “Maniac Joe” Iannone taking serious runs at them at session’s end. Vinales missed out on the two hole by 4/1000ths of a second. Iannone could have easily moved up to the front row had he not been momentarily held up by Scott Redding, who appeared to be doing his best to get out of the way. (A track record final lap by Marquez was tossed when it was determined he had started it one second after the checkered flag had waved.)

Having watched six of the top seven riders in Moto2 jump the start, the start of the MotoGP tilt appeared somewhat sluggish, especially for Marquez and Vinales, who got lost in the sauce. Marquez, looking WAY more comfortable than he looked last season prior to switching to his 2014 chassis, escaped from the crowd to join the lead group in fourth position. Vinales, perhaps concerned about making an early-season mistake, found himself mired behind Dani Pedrosa, where he spent the entire evening.

Last season, it took Jorge Lorenzo until May to get his first win, let alone his first podium. He won the championship anyway, but it helps to get the first 25 points out of the way early.

The lead group formed up with Lorenzo leading the Dueling Andreas of the factory Ducati team, trailed by Valentino Rossi and Marquez. At the start of Lap 2, both Ducatis flew past Lorenzo, Iannone in the lead. Marquez slipped past Rossi on Lap 3 and began dogging Lorenzo on Lap 4. I was just getting comfortable with the idea of Iannone winning his first premier class race when he lowsided out of the lead in Turn 13 of Lap 6, leaving Dovizioso to slug it out with the Aliens. Sure enough, on Lap 9 Lorenzo found his way through on Dovizioso and that was that. Marquez and Dovizioso would trade places a few times over the remaining 14 laps, but no one was able to mount any kind of serious challenge to Lorenzo once he found his rhythm.

Tell Us Again What We Learned This Winter

Nothing. Elevated expectations for Vinales and Octo Pramac Ducati Brit Scott Redding didn’t pan out, at least in Round One. This is a good time to point out that the Qatar GP usually offers up a few surprises to which followers of MotoGP give too much weight. This is probably more true in 2016 than usual, given the technical changes everyone was dealing with. Here’s what we know at this moment:

Jorge Lorenzo remains the top dog.

  • The top riders have already adjusted to the Michelins and the control ECU.
  • Dovizioso and Iannone will do well at the long, sweeping circuits like Brno and Phillip Island. We don’t know how they will hold up at the cramped little joints like The Sachsenring and Motegi.
  • Marquez has finally learned that 16 points is better than none.
  • Rossi, now joined at the hip with Yamaha for the rest of his career, will have more fruitful days than he did today. Although he qualified better than usual, there was no late-race challenge from #46. His choice of the harder option rear tire proved to have been in vain.
  • Michelin has figured out a lot of stuff in a very short time. Many of the riders set their fastest laps of the day late in the race.
  • Iannone has replaced the departed Nicky Hayden in the competition for the absolute worst haircut on the grid. At this point, he’s winning by a mile.
  • The competition for the top riders has already begun.

Early Season Silliness

After two seasons in the wilderness (er, Ducati), Rossi knew he was onto a good thing when he returned to Yamaha. It’s no surprise that he leapt at the chance to sign a contract extension.

Right, so Rossi and Lorenzo were reportedly offered contracts for 2017-18 simultaneously, by email. Rossi signs his immediately. Lorenzo does not. Rossi suggests Lorenzo is shopping Ducati. (Lorenzo is, in fact, shopping Ducati.) Lorenzo fires back that Rossi had no choice because no one else would want him. Boom. Bradley Smith, on the verge of eviction by Tech 3 boss Herve Poncharal, signs a deal with KTM for next year, leaving Yamaha a spot with which to woo Alex Rins.

I would say the odds of Lorenzo moving to Ducati in 2017 increased at the close of Lap 1, when the lead group entered the front straight. Lorenzo, at the front of the pack, could only sit and watch as both factory Ducatis effortlessly blew past him, Grant-through-Richmond style, forcing him to push harder in the turns than he might have wished for the rest of the race. The speed of the Desmosedici (Iannone was clocked at 218 mph on Saturday) combined with the skills of Jorge Lorenzo herald a formidable force if, indeed, Lorenzo elects to switch. He would probably enjoy, too, the prospect of winning a title or three at Ducati, which The Doctor was unable to do, albeit during the pre-Dall’Igna era.

Meanwhile, Jorge Lorenzo would be wise to leverage his bargaining position before deciding to sign a new contract with anyone.

Here’s an easy one: If/when Lorenzo bolts for Ducati, Yamaha will immediately sign the 21 year-old Vinales for as long as they can. He’s the hottest property in MotoGP right now, despite his mediocre performance today. Honda, on the other hand, needs to decide soon if they really want another two years of hard-luck Pedrosa, or if the future wouldn’t look much brighter with Marquez and Vinales (or Marquez and Rins) fronting the Repsol factory team.

The Big Picture

I’m not even sure there IS a big picture so early in the season. Iannone’s impression of Lorenzo’s 2014 crash in the desert has needlessly put him behind the eight ball for the rest of the year; why he was pushing so hard so early in the race, with all that bike beneath him, is a mystery.

motogp 2016 losail results, The 2016 Ducati Desmosedici is notable for its winglet design Andrea Iannone opted for four winglets while Andrea Dovizioso used just one pair
The 2016 Ducati Desmosedici is notable for its winglet design. Andrea Iannone opted for four winglets while Andrea Dovizioso used just one pair.

Rossi, his meal ticket punched for the next three years, may have lost a bit of intensity – about racing, that is. He seems fully charged up for a season-long verbal feud with Lorenzo, and would probably welcome Marquez back into the fray as well. Dorna, it seems, is not amused by Rossi’s baiting of his two Spanish rivals, and may try to convince him to cool his jets. Having a 27 year-old Rossi snarling and snapping at you was once a frightening prospect. A 37 year-old Rossi, who has been beaten by both Lorenzo and Marquez: not so much. Yamaha may live to regret their pre-emptive signing of Rossi, especially if it ends up costing them both Vinales and Rins.

Those hoping to see a continuation of last season’s drama between Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez will have to wait as the Doctor seemed more intent on roiling things up with Jorge Lorenzo.

Two Weeks to the Middle of Nowhere

The grid has a little time to screw things back together before heading off for a back-to-back, Round Two in Argentina and Round Three in Austin. Even old econ majors like me are not too geeked up about hearing the teams yammer on about analyzing all the data they collected this weekend. Whatever. It’s good to have the bikes back on track competing in anger. It’s great having Nick Harris calling the shots in the booth. It’s good for the sport to have Marquez competitive again this year. It will be good – next year – to have more bikes on the grid. And it will be fascinating to see which bums end up on which seats as the season rolls on.

For now, Lorenzo rules.

2016 MotoGP Qatar Results

Pos.

RiderTeamTime

1

Jorge LorenzoMovistar Yamaha

2

Andrea DoviziosoDucati Corse+2.019

3

Marc MarquezRepsol Honda+2.287

4

Valentino RossiMovistar Yamaha+2.387

5

Dani PedrosaRepsol Honda+14.083

6

Maverick VinalesSuzuki Ecstar+15.423

7

Pol EspargaroMonster Yamaha Tech3+18.629

8

Bradley SmithMonster Yamaha Tech3+18.652

9

Hector BarberaAvintia Racing+21.160

10

Scott ReddingOcto Pramac Yaknich Ducati+24.435

11

Aleix EspargaroSuzuki Ecstar+35.847

12

Eugene LavertyAspar Ducati+41.756

13

Alvaro BautistaAprilia Gresini+41.932

14

Jack MillerEstrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda+41.982

15

Tito RabatEstrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda+54.953

Not Classified

Stefan BradlAprilia Gresini11 Laps

Loris BazAvintia Ducati14 Laps

Cal CrutchlowLCR Honda16 Laps

Andrea IannoneDucati17 Laps

Yonny HernandezAspar Ducati21 Laps

2016 MotoGP Top Ten Standings After 1 Round

Pos.

RiderMotorcyclePoints

1

Jorge LorenzoMovistar Yamaha25

2

Andrea DoviziosoDucati Corse20

3

Marc MarquezRepsol Honda16

4

Valentino RossiMovistar Yamaha13

5

Dani PedrosaRepsol Honda11

6

Maverick VinalesSuzuki Ecstar10

7

Pol EspargaroMonster Yamaha Tech39

8

Bradley SmithMonster Yamaha Tech38

9

Hector BarberaAvintia Racing7

10

Scott ReddingOcto Pramac Yaknich Ducati6
Comments
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7 of 36 comments
  • Shlomi Shlomi on Mar 21, 2016

    If only Iannone keept is wheels up we would have know the true potential of the Ducati. Dovi is clearly not Ducati #1 rider. Issue is that this track is Ducati territory. If Ducati didn't win here, the next chance is Philiip Island which is way too late in the calendar.
    One thing is clear, MM is not so magical when his bike isn't the best bike on the grid.

    • See 1 previous
    • Shlomi Shlomi on Mar 24, 2016

      Out of the top tier riders only Iannone lost the front and he admitted he went over the white line. The tier 2 riders (Crutclow and others) tends to ride over thier heads frequently to catch up the front groups, so crashing more frequently. I think what made the difference for Lorenzo, was his pick of the soft rear tire. He was able to enjoy the grip, yet the tire grip didn't fade away. Lordnzo fastest lap was lap 20 !
      Still if only Iannone kept his bike up, what a race we could have had....

  • Ozzy Mick Ozzy Mick on Mar 22, 2016

    The only thing I look forward to in the motogp is not the processional 'racing', but the return of The Man - Brucey Baby!
    BTW, why can't you be in 2 places at once and also report on the World Superbikes? I ALMOST made it there this year but couldn't - bah!

    • See 2 previous
    • Old MOron Old MOron on Mar 25, 2016

      Yeah, I noticed that, too. Bloody favoritism! Aside from that, it has to do with the fact that MO won't pay for WSBK articles. I know that our MOrons are race fans. I blame it on VerticalScope. I'm tempted to call them dirty names right now, but I'll restrain myself.

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