until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Bagnaia wins MotoGP opener but all eyes on Acosta and Marquez

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Reigning MotoGP champion Pecco Bagnaia took the win in the first grand prix of the 2024 season in Qatar, while Ducati newcomer Marc Marquez took fourth.

It marked Ducati's fifth Qatar Grand Prix win in the last six editions of the race (although it did also lose in the Doha Grand Prix at the same track in 2021).

The race was shortened by one lap due to an aborted start, caused by a mechanical issue for Raul Fernandez and the new Trackhouse Aprilia team. Fernandez wound up starting last after an extra warm-up lap, and parked up his second Aprilia RS-GP in the pits after 17 laps.

This time, Bagnaia did what he couldn't do in the Saturday sprint by immediately muscling his way through to the lead to fully negate a slightly underwhelming qualifying effort.

He was already third coming into Turn 1, sent it down the inside of Brad Binder at Turn 2 and successfully attacked Jorge Martin for the lead at Turn 4.

With Binder overtaking Martin at the start of the second lap but then being repassed two laps later, Bagnaia established an early cushion to his chasers - and he went over a second clear when Binder again manoeuvred past Martin, going side by side through Turn 1 and hanging on to the position on the braking into Turn 2.

But once clear of Martin, Binder couldn't really make meaningful inroads into Bagnaia either - allowing the reigning champion to take the win by 1.3s and the championship lead coming out of the round, albeit by just two points over Binder and three over Martin.

While Bagnaia's controlled ride meant the victory battle never really opened up, rookie Pedro Acosta demanded attention by muscling his way to the front in the opening laps - picking his way through the Marquez brothers until he finally arrived on the back of a potential podium position.

But just two laps later Acosta ran wide and let the elder Marquez through, and from there on the rookie's tyres looked decidedly cooked as he tumbled down the order.

Instead, Martin briefly looked like he would come under threat from Marc Marquez - but it quickly came to naught, and the sprint winner completed the podium just six tenths behind Binder.

Bagnaia's works team-mate Enea Bastianini rescued a fifth place thanks to a strong late-race showing after dropping back early on.

He secured the spot with a penultimate-lap overtake on Gresini Ducati's Alex Marquez, while VR46 Ducati's Fabio Di Giannantonio - making some amends for his scary highside in the sprint - made it six Ducatis in the top seven.

Aprilia's Aleix Espargaro, widely thought as having the best race pace for Sunday, was completely undone by the early stages of the race - fifth after the start and muscled down to 10th as early as lap two.

He eventually recovered to eight, getting through on the fading Acosta late on - Acosta marking his debut with ninth place.

Maverick Vinales completed the top 10 for Aprilia, followed by Yamaha's Fabio Quartararo - who beat LCR Honda's Johann Zarco for top honours in MotoGP's informal 'Japanese bikes' championship'.

There were two Ducati outliers in Marco Bezzecchi (VR46 Ducati), who continues to lack feeling with the 2023-spec Ducati compared to the 2022 version he had last year and was only 14th, and Franco Morbidelli (Pramac Ducati), who will be reasonably happy with 18th, having arrived to the weekend massively on the back foot after skipping the entire pre-season due to the injury from his road bike crash.

Binder's works KTM team-mate Jack Miller crashed on the second lap at Turn 1 right after being overtaken by Di Giannantonio and Alex Marquez, and - after remounting - spent the rest of the race fighting Honda's struggling debutant Luca Marini to avoid the 'wooden spoon'.

Marini ultimately prevailed by 0.339s.

Race Results

PosNameCarLapsLaps LedTotal TimeFastest LapPitstopsPts
1Francesco BagnaiaDucati212139m34.869s1m52.667s031
2Brad BinderKTM210+1.329s1m52.729s029
3Jorge MartinDucati210+1.933s1m52.742s028
4Marc MarquezDucati210+3.429s1m52.773s018
5Enea BastianiniDucati210+5.153s1m52.890s015
6Alex MarquezDucati210+6.791s1m52.811s013
7Fabio Di GiannantonioDucati210+9.161s1m52.909s09
8Aleix EspargaróAprilia210+11.242s1m52.887s015
9Pedro AcostaKTM210+11.595s1m52.657s09
10Maverick ViñalesAprilia210+13.197s1m52.932s07
11Fabio QuartararoYamaha210+17.701s1m53.468s05
12Johann ZarcoHonda210+18.075s1m53.410s04
13Joan MirHonda210+18.437s1m53.457s03
14Marco BezzecchiDucati210+19.194s1m53.342s02
15Miguel OliveiraAprilia210+20.717s1m53.401s01
16Alex RinsYamaha210+24.093s1m53.270s00
17Augusto FernandezKTM210+24.106s1m53.214s00
18Franco MorbidelliDucati210+24.641s1m53.630s00
19Takaaki NakagamiHonda210+25.556s1m53.704s00
20Luca MariniHonda210+42.422s1m54.306s00
21Jack MillerKTM210+42.761s1m53.927s00
Raul FernandezAprilia170DNF1m53.638s00
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