MotoGP 2021 Losail I Results

© Bruce Allen March 28, 2021

17 Things We Learned in Doha, Round One

The MotoGP opening weekends in the Middle East mess with my body clock, as does youth basketball, grandkid sleepovers, Palm Sunday and Microsoft glitches. All were present this weekend, and as a result what follows will be worse than usual. Did we mention that Losail is an outlier?

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Given Friday’s results in the premier class practice sessions, it appeared the top four, within fractions of the all-time lap record, would cruise into Q2. This would leave Rins, Vinales, Morbidelli, Rossi and the Espargaros with skin in the game in FP3. There would be plenty of fast movers looking for top ten status after FP3, including defending champion Joan Mir and the entire KTM contingent headed by Brad Binder in P16 after two. The fascinating Jorge Martin, adjusting quickly to the Pramac Ducati, went 13th on Friday. 11 riders were in the 1’53’s. Pol Espargaro (P10) slid out of a fast turn during injury time, after the 00:00, and messed up a perfectly good RC213-V.


Temps and times went up in FP3, leaving the combined results of FP1 and FP2 as the determinant as to who had to suffer through Q1 while his rivals were eating peeled grapes in the garage bistro. And so it was that, in the first defense of his title, Joan Mir would suffer the indignity of having to get through Q1 to entertain any breath of a chance of winning Round 1.

That’s not so bad. Look at the spread between Aron Canet and Lorenzo Baldassarri over in Moto2. BadAss heads for Q1 while Canet cruises on. 2/1000ths. Ridiculous.

Baldassarri failed to make it out of Q1 and would start Sunday in P26, Canet in P12.

[Microsoft Word ate my stuff about Q1 and Q2. THAT hasn’t happened in a long time. It will have to suffice to say that Nakagami and Mir escaped Q1, and that Pecco Bagnaia, finally showing us something, recorded the first ever sub-1’53 lap at Losail, securing his first pole and heading a lead group of seven comprised  solely of Ducati and Yamaha entries. Aleix and the two Suzukis completed the top ten, with Pol Espargaro and Takaa wiping up the rear, as it were, of the first four rows. Eight riders shattered Marquez’ previous record lap from 2019; it’s going to be a long, hot, season. We here at Late-Braking MotoGP are stoked. My previous blather re Moto2 and Moto3 is lost for all time.]

Sunday—Race Day

I am reduced to using the tired Random Number Things We Learned here, as it’s late, I’m tired and have a headache.

  1. Yamaha has fixed whatever was bothering it the last two years. Vinales demonstrated today that they can win a race. At least at a track where the wind reduces Ducati’s continuing advantage in top-end speed.
  2. Quartararo seems to be giving a reprise of Vinales’ career start, going off like a Roman Candle, then underperforming for a while. As a sophomore last year, he won twice in Jerez and again in Catalunya—three (3) times total, although he’s excellent at qualifying—and has been crowned The Heir Apparent.
  3. Not so fast. Vinales, you will recall, won three of his first five races as a rookie. In 66 races since then, he’s won five times, including today. Pardon me if I don’t climb on either the Maverick or Fabio bandwagons just yet. If Maverick wins again here next week I’ll buy you a good cigar, as dad used to wager.
  4. The one rider whose bandwagon I was prepared to climb aboard, Petronas SRT stud Frankie Morbidelli, failed miserably today in his 2021 debut. I had him top three for the year, and still do. Losail is an outlier. His team has a week to get the bike sorted. He can’t NOT score points again next week.
  5. Morbidelli’s new teammate, Valentino Rossi, qualified in P4 yesterday, raising some eyebrows, but settled comfortably into P12 today. However, his minions sold thousands of hats, t-shirts, hoodies, yellow smoke grenades, yellow fright wigs, with everything that wasn’t yellow now in teal, opening up a huge additional market for the MotoGP Magnate. Plus, they sold more of the old factory Yamaha gear at a discount and made even more. What a rider.
  6. It appears the Ducati contingent, all six of them, are fast, notably rookie Jorge Martin. But there was a day, back in the day, when the Ducs would go like hell for the first two-thirds of the race, whereupon their tires would turn to molasses and they would limp home. Those days may have returned, as both Miller and Martin suffered late in the race. Simon pointed out that they all had to change their mapping to conserve fuel, and this is what held them back. He’s probably right, as there was nothing holding Zarco and Bagnaia back on the run to the flag. Ask Joan Mir.
  7. The Suzukis look more capable this year than they did this time last year, which turned out pretty well.
  8. Honda Racing is just screwed without Marc Marquez. Pol Espargaro managed a respectable P8 in his first race on the Honda, although he was never a factor. Nakagami crashed, Alex Marquez crashed, and test rider Stefan Bradl managed points in P11.
  9. The Aprilia is better this year. Still not great, but better. One doesn’t have to feel sorry for Aleix Espargaro all the time.
  10. KTM appears to have taken a step backward over the winter. Danilo Petrucci looks like he’s going to have a long year. Five points to show for the weekend. Brutal.
  11. Enea Bastianini may be the cream of the crop of rookies coming up from Moto2. On Lap 5 he was dawdling in P18. He finished in P10.
  12. Pecco Bagnaia is going to win a race this year. At least one.
  13. Sam Lowes is probably going to win the Moto2 title this year. It’s nice when your top three competitors graduate to MotoGP. I don’t know what it is about Sam that grinds me. I think his readiness to offer excuses for underachieving may have something to do with it.
  14. This Moto3 rookie, Pedro Acosta, who finished in P2 today is 16 years old? I’d say he bears watching as an Alien-in-Waiting. Another ambitious rookie in the class, one Xavier Artigas, skittled three serious riders on Lap 5 and is going to get spanked by Race Direction if he hasn’t already.
  15. Jaume Masia is going to end up in MotoGP. Don’t know about Darryn Binder. Three sets of brothers in the premier class might be one too many.
  16. Your boy Romano Fenati managed P11 today in Moto3 despite two long lap penalties.
  17. I’ll try to do better next week. Cheers.

RIP Fausto Gresini.

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29 Responses to “MotoGP 2021 Losail I Results”

  1. prakasit Says:

    Rest in peace indeed, Mr. Gresini.
    Is it too early for me to jump off my Jack Miller band wagon?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Buzz Says:

    A great start to the season. I watched it at 7 AM Hawaii time with coffee.My wife was laughing at me screaming at my iPad. I haven’t watched Moto2 or Moto3 yet but plan to do it this evening.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Vrooom Says:

    Nice to see Aleix taking his brother to school. Vinales had it going on, not sure he won’t repeat next week, though that may be it for the season. His passes were beautiful coming up from 8th.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dale Mensch Says:

    Ducatis 1-4 going into the first turn shocked me! I’m not ready to admit yet that Yamaha has a full fix: Maverick either. Super strong start last year, after all. I’ll be sad if Quartararo turns out to be Vinales II. Haven’t seen an explanation yet for Morbidelli’s result- hopefully some one-off glitch? I’ll quibble over your math- I think there are already 2 1/2 brother pairs in MotoGP (or were you anticipating Valentino leaving before Darryn shows up?)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Old MOron Says:

    Fun race today. I’m with Brucey. Not convinced about Pop Gun yet, though he sure made the Yamaha look invincible today. As for poor Morbidelli, I watched his post-race interview. He said his bike had trouble on the starting grid, and his team was unable to sort it before the race. He was pretty bitter about it: “I know I’m not high on Yamaha’s list, but I hope they will take this very seriously and fix it.”

    The Suzukis were a disappointment today. Last year the commentators were saying, “Suzuki has built a better Yamaha.” I didn’t see that this weekend, Morbi’s, Valley’s, and Quarty’s bike/tire problems notwithstanding.

    The Ducati’s? I don’t know. What good is all that power if they have to restrain it in order to make their fuel last? Maybe the headwind played into the situation. Maybe other tracks will be different.

    KTM? Bwa-ha ha-ha! We need Sayyed to explain how today’s performance really means that KTM is going to win the championship.

    Aprilia, better but still not good enough – at least at this track.

    Moto3 was fantastic as usual. It’s curious that Fenati had to ride two long laps as punishment for his false start, yet Carlos Tatay had to ride only one long lap after he caused Dennis Foggia to crash. Oh well, I cheer for Fenati every year. 2021 will be no different.

    Moto2, I just can’t get on the Sadsack Sam bandwagon. Riding for the richest team on the grid seems to suit him. To be fair, it seems to suit most racers. I won’t grudge him if he puts together a good season.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Bruce Allen Says:

    I don’t think the Ducs have to dial down their fuel mixture everywhere. But if they did, or do, yes, that would defeat much of the purpose. Except for that last quarter mile, when you can open the jets and fly by, say, Joan Mir.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Old MOron Says:

      From what I’ve managed to glean, there were two factors involved in Ducati’s loss of power.

      One: during free practice, they don’t have to worry about going the race distance, so they can open up the taps, set new top speed records, etc. But during a race they have to be more judicious with their consumption, so they don’t have the same power as during free practice.

      Two: headwind on the straight necessitated more fuel, which in turn necessitated more fuel metering.

      Of course Ducati’s bike is still a beast, but they weren’t able to reel Pop Gun in on the straight. That is significant, considering that Yamaha is regarded as the slowest bike on the grid.

      Oh, another thing. Both Baggy and Zarco cited rear tire degradation. Well, I suppose that’s par for the course, unless you’re on a Suzuki.

      It’s great to be back on MotoGP for Dummies (and MOrons).
      See you next week!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Starmag Says:

    Almost no one is mentioning the reigning champ Mir. Weird. He had the best ride of he day going from 10th to 2nd. Mr. Consistency will be tough again this year. Sure, he got out powered on the last corner, but Baggy and Zarco won’t be near the top of the standings at the end of the year and Mir will be.

    If Methuselah doesn’t hang it up before the end of the year, he’ll be facing his 2nd forced demotion. Petronas obviously didn’t want him to start with. Not a good look for his legacy. But the rear tire! Yeah, we’ve heard that before a few times Vale. After a few races of that excuse, he usually starts implying that it’s the crew’s fault. That should go over well. lol.

    Kudos to Pop Gun, but he won’t be a threat for the championship because of his lack of consistency. Same for El Diablo.

    Bold New Graphics doesn’t seem to have changed anything for The Thriller.

    Can’t wait for the King Of The Save to return for a bit more drama.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Allison Sullivan Says:

      That was MIr’s MO last year too. If he came up behind you, he was going to be past you in two corners. It’s a shame that the Suzukis seem to be that smidge down on power, leaving them midfield in qualifying (when midfield is literally only half a second off pole). A few places up the grid at lights out would sure make life easier for them.

      As the race was late in the day I’m going tp have to wait for someone to put it on YouTube and watch it tonight. But hey, Bruce, look! Someone put a size ten up Pecco Bagnaia’s backside, LOL!! Lots of people suggesting that getting hitched over the winter might have done things for Pop Gun’s mental state. Might be some truth to it – he wouldn’t be the first dude to straighten up and fly right after meeting the right woman.

      Not great results from my picks this weekend. Frankie’s bike misbehaving and Taka’s in the weeds (and what did I say about Yamaha treating Frankie like a red headed stepchild? Seems even Frankie’s noticed this season). Tatsu in 8th in Moto3. At least Marco Bezzecchi had a decent result, and it was great to see solid starts from Joe Roberts and Cam Beaubier in Moto2 as well.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dale Mensch Says:

      I forgot to mention M1r! Most heartbreaking end-of-final-sector I’ve ever seen. Glad he was taking it so well during interviews. Rossi- yup, still looking like the long slow fade 😦

      I did see a followup on Morbidelli: his rear launch device may have been stuck in the down position?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Starmag Says:

        Morbo will be fine. Hopefully he can ignore the garage drama that’s likely this year. He’ll be back next race. Suspension tech issue. He proved himself last year to me. Consistency is paramount. Here’s the best two:

        Antman 2019 – never lower than 2nd! (besides DNF)

        Mir 2020 – wins championship after only winning one race. If he had not won that one race and still took the title, it would have really driven home the point.

        Morbo’s probably third.

        Everybody else needs to work on their consistency track-to-track to have a chance at the title.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. Mad4TheCrest Says:

    A great race by Vinales, who didn’t seem to suffer his usual first-half doldrums. He looked a lot like the Valentino Rossi (of old) heir he was supposed to be originally.

    Mir was patient and made steady if slow progress until he was in podium contention. If not for the power of the Ducatis and the mistake that forced him in to making, Mir would have had his podium.

    Bagnaia is the real deal. After leading much of the race then fading, he kept his head up, took advantage of his bikes strengths, and got on the podium.

    SRT Yamaha has some soul searching to do. I’d say their results were the most unexpected and disappointing of the race.

    The two US boys in Moto2 did ok. Roberts finished in the top ten and Beaubier was just behind in 11th. To finish in the top 15 on your first Moto2 race at an unfamiliar track, in windy and cold conditions, was an amazing result for Beaubier. Roberts did what we knew he could do on a bike that won last years title. He started out this string last year but faded. I hope he can keep it going for better results this season.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Old MOron Says:

      Good point about the end of the race. It wasn’t just the Ducati power that sealed Mir’s fate. He made a small mistake and ran wide. As a result he could not get on the gas until he had corrected his line. Not possible to out-drag a Ducati (or anyone, really) when you’re late on the throttle.

      Rob and Bob (Roberts and Beaubier) did pretty well. I hope they will improve throughout the season, starting next week!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Bruce Allen Says:

      Allison says he shaped up because he got married over the winter. That’ll help you with any focus issues.


  9. Old MOron Says:

    Saw an interesting note on Crash.
    Sounds like Pop Gun has a new wife and a new bromance with Cal Crutchlow.
    Maybe all Vinny needed, all these years, was the right test rider.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Starmag Says:

      I’ll be waiting for more results before holding my breath. Pop Gun has a lot of inconsistency to live down. If anything, maybe he’ll focus more, (You must have focus grasshopper!), because of the bun in the oven, (the reason for the quicky covid vows?).

      Liked by 2 people

    • Dale Mensch Says:

      Seems like Cal was the primary parts tester for Honda for years and they developed a bike… that ONLY Marc could ride? On the other hand, didn’t Yamaha’s and Ducati’s success dwindle about the time that Lorenzo left?

      Liked by 1 person

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