2018 Qatar MotoGP Recap: Round 1

For 2018, MotoGP and its lineup of commentaries – Steve Day, Matt Birt and Simon Crafar – have launched a new series titled “After the Flag.”

This is much better than the typical official MotoGP video recap of under two minutes. Now, we get some insight from those closest to MotoGP.

The new “After the Flag” series, embedded below, began at Qatar’s Losail International Circuit, which launched the opening round of 2018 MotoGP this past weekend.

The action was intense from the opening day of practice. Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso, who finished runner-up in 2017 MotoGP behind eventual four-time MotoGP Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda), was quickest Friday.

But come Saturday Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Johann Zarco claimed the pole with a record lap. The Frenchman then led 16 of the opening 17 laps on race day, but experienced tire-wear issues, dropping him back to eighth, where he eventually finished.

Dovizioso, who qualified fifth, was less aggressive from the outset, taking his time to pass LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow and Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa within the opening 10 laps of the 22-lap MotoGP.

He then battled with Marquez, and the two passed Zarco at the first corner of lap 18. From there the two dueled to the finish line, and Dovi’s Ducati GP18 had more on Qatar’s straight to claim the win by 0.027 of a second. Claiming a lonely third was nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi, who finished 0.797 of a second behind Dovizioso, and over two seconds ahead of Crutchlow.

2018 Qatar MotoGP Recap | 'After the Flag' Video Commentary
Ducati’s Dovizioso battles with Honda’s Marquez at Qatar MotoGP

“I’m really happy with this win because we have confirmed the improvements made over the winter and I was able to manage the race well, even though I made a really bad start,” Andrea Dovizioso says.

“On the first lap I had to come off the gas, otherwise I would have crashed into Rins I think, but then I began to make up places, trying not to ruin the tyres.. Towards the end, after passing Zarco, I tried to pull out a gap on Marquez and Rossi but I didn’t have any more grip and was unable to increase my lead.

“At the last curve I had to be very careful because I knew that Marquez would try and pass me, and that’s how it went. He closed the door on me even more than in Austria and Japan, but I passed him on the inside of the curb and then took advantage of the power of my Desmosedici to stay ahead. Once again it was a great satisfaction!”

MotoGP now breaks for two weeks ahead of the Grand Prix of Argentina at Termas de Rio Hondo, a track that was dominated last year by Movistar MotoGP Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales.