Antonelli steals the lead in a dramatic end to the first Moto3 race in Qatar

The first race of the Moto3 calendar proved to be as exciting as ever as the four-stroke 250cc bikes took to the Losail International Circuit under the floodlights in Qatar.

Antonelli steals the lead in a dramatic end to the first Moto3 race in Qatar
Antonelli pipped Binder to the Moto3 victory in Qatar | Photo:

Sky Racing VR46 rider Romano Fenati claimed pole position on the grid; the Italian was able to get a good start and remained in the lead as the pack entered the first corner. Racing GP BV rider Livio Loi tried to overtake but Fenati blocked him in the opening lap.

After a few laps a small group of five riders started to break away from the busy pack, with most of the overtaking happening at the end of the start-finish straight as usual entering turn one. Red Bull KTM Ajo rider Brad Binder and Fenati were the main two dicing for the lead with Binder being in front for most of the race. EG 0,0 rider Jorge Navarro briefly led and ASPAR Team Moto3 rider Francesco Bagnaia was up there applying pressure also with recently injured Niccolo Antonelli on his Ongetta-Rivacold Team Honda.

Bulega's riding style and lines stood out in comparison

Moto3 rookie Nicolo Bulega; new teammate of Fenati managed to overtake Leopard Racing Team rider Fabio Quartararo who led the second group and soon he was on the back of the leaders. Bulega’s riding style and lines stood out in comparison to those around him; he had to keep adjusting his position and his line entering and exiting the corners were unique. He briefly led but unfortunately got sucked to the back of the group towards the end of the race once again entering turn one.

Schedl GP Racing team rider Philipp Oettl gradually crept up the pack following a fantastic performance. Also, the only girl in the Moto3 class Maria Herrera managed to finish sixteenth overall on her MH6 Laglisse KTM; a bike that her father had to fun and was only ready two days before the race. ASPAR Mahindra Team Moto3 rider Jorge Martin crashed near the start of the race, he was fortunately unhurt.

Binder continued to dominate

The battle continued with the front five regularly changing positions heading into turn one. Binder continued to dominate after Fenati made a mistake causing him to go out wide which resulted in him ending up at the back of the lead pack. Binder still led as the front group seemed to settle and prepare to enter the last lap in the best possible position. In what ended up being a dramatic finish, Antonelli stayed in the slipstream of leader Binder before coming across the track alone to cross the line just 0.007 seconds ahead of Binder.

The top three finishers consisted of a Honda, KTM and Mahindra

Bagnaia finished third ahead of Fenati and Enea Bastianini who made a late break from the second group on his Gresini Racing Moto3 Honda. He was followed by rookie Bulega, Navarro and Loi who all looked strong in the build up to the race. The top three places contained a Honda, KTM and a Mahindra.

Drama back at the pit garage of the Sky Racing Team VR46

To add to the drama, back at the pit garage of the Sky Racing VR46 Team Bulega went to shake the hand of his teammate who shunned him much to the shock of Bulega and the rest of the team. Fenati seemed less than impressed with the rookie who had an outstanding first performance at a track he was unfamiliar with.