Jorge Martin was ready for the attack from fellow countryman Aron Canet and covered his slipstream attempts to hold on to victory in a close finish to the Moto3 Qatar Grand Prix.

The pre-race favourite had crashed in warm-up but any concerns about his Del Conca Gresini Honda were unfounded as the pair duelled it out after Enea Bastianini crashed out of the lead three.

Martin had power in spades and some smart manoeuvring saw him able to answer his rivals lunge to the line to take his first ever back-to-back wins - having also won the 2017 closing round in Valencia- by just 0.023s at the Losail track.

Canet took positives in second and was pleased to start the season on the podium and with the pace to challenge Martin for the Moto3 crown.

Behind the lead two the battle for the final podium spot was race long and fierce with thirteen riders in for a shout coming into the final lap.

It was Lorenzo Dalla Porta who hit the front in the race to the flag for his best ever finish and first ever podium on his Leopard racing machine. The Italian had shown his pace after topping the timesheets in warm-up.

It was an all Honda top four with polesitter Nico Antonelli next to cross the line, a great finish for the SIC Squadra Corse team after a first pole position.

Top KTM honours went to RBA’s Gabriel Rodrigo in fifth who scrapped his way past Gresini’s Fabio Di Giannantonio who finished sixth, a great comeback from 16th on the grid.

Kaito Toba enjoyed a career best finish in seventh for Honda Team Asia, just ahead of fellow countryman Ayumu Sasaki who finished eighth for Petronas.

Jakub Kornfeil fought his way up to ninth for PruestlGP with Andrea Migno completing the top ten for the Angel Nieto (formerly Aspar) team.

Also in the points were Adam Norrodin (Petronas Sprinta Racing), who caught the back of the chasing pack to progress to eleventh and top rookie Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) in twelfth as he starts his first full season.

Another rookie Kazuki Masaki (RBA) claimed 13th, Marco Bezzecchi (PruestlGP) 14th despite a late tumble as the gap behind the huge group vying for third was big enough for him to rejoin in the points, with Marcos Ramirez (Bester Capital Dubai) 15th.

Kazakhstan’s first world championship rider Makar Yukchenko finished his first race in 19th.

A frustrated and disappointed John McPhee had dropped as low as 22nd with bike issues including no rear brake over the opening laps, before staging a massive comeback to get back to the chasing pack , leading it in third before he crashed out in the mad dash for the final podium place on the last lap.

Youngest rider in the field, Alonso Lopez was in position for a points finish before crashing out with seven laps to go. Livio Loi retired to the pits shortly after.

Exiting before them were Brad Binder and Philipp Oettl, out together at turn eight when running in the top ten after just four laps.

Nicolo Bulega competed a sorry weekend for the Sky Racing VR46 team by crashing out of 17th with 8 laps remaining, team-mate Dennis Foggia finished 16th.

Tatsuki Suzuki, who fractured his arm in practice on Friday and Albert Arenas, who sustained a broken collarbone in warm-up both endured the worst possible start to the season, missing the race.


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