Maverick Viñales embroidered his plan to perfection. In a clean race, without scares, or bravado; Without touches, or accidents, the indolence of the new Mack prevailed, who no longer loses his nerves. That he feels in a state of grace since he got married and listened to the heartbeat of his future daughter, Nina. He managed, with patience and a fine lap by lap, to prevail over the very fast Ducati, pure power on that straight of just over a kilometer that crowns the Losail circuit. Neither Zarco nor Bagnaia, who flirted with the victory, could resist, despite the power of the Desmosedici engine, the perfect race for Viñales, winner in the first round of the year.
Viñales was victorious in the Qatari Grand Prix four years after that first race he played with a Yamaha, in 2017. He promised them very happy then, at the start of a World Cup that he led for weeks – he achieved three wins in five appointments – Before everything got too complicated It was never quite clear whether the fault of the M1’s poor performance was the Michelin tires, the gazillion chassis made by Japanese engineers, or an engine that left them stranded on more than one occasion last season. But Viñales has stopped hesitating to start running. And to win.
Upon his return to Qatar, the one from Roses was not caught by surprise by this rebellious Yamaha, which is no longer sweet as silk, nor does it approach curves as if it were sliding on rails. The Spaniard has spent more than three years trying to understand what was wrong until he has assumed that he has no choice but to dominate the beast. And the M1 finally responds, now that whoever rides it makes the most of it. “We will have to throw a lot,” summarized Viñales when asked the day before about the strategy for the race, the first of the season.
He started on the 12th from the second position on the grid and his objective was none other than to force the race, to try to break the deck and reduce the roster of applicants on a weekend when times were measured to the millimeter. It was not a bad plan, but the execution was not easy either. He overtook Zarco with eleven laps to go and placed second, behind Bagnaia, the man of the pole, whom he caught two turns later. And he escaped. The rider knew that the starts are still not his strength or that of his motorcycle, no matter how many tests he struggled to do during practice. But he recovered to the lost positions in the first laps. With patience. Relying on the performance of his Yamaha in the last part of the Qatari track, he chained three corners to the right to gain meters before overcoming the 16th final corner and facing a straight in which the Ducati became rockets.
They did not reach the 362.4 km / h that Zarco reached the day before, because to compete they did not need so many horses nor would the motorcycle have supported it on a track so demanding with fuel consumption. But they were unbeatable on the straight. Nobody has to explain it to Joan Mir, who reached the last corners in second position and finished off the podium before the push of Zarco and Bagnaia.
It was the race of the world champion Mir another test from less to more, although the final prize slipped from him in just 20 seconds. Suzuki’s rider rallied from tenth position on the grid where he started to fourth with five laps remaining. And he kept trying. Three laps to go, he overtook Bagnaia. And he waited for the last corners to beat Zarco between turns 15 and 16. Giving full throttle in those final meters didn’t help. The Ducati are in another dimension when only the top speed is measured as it happens in a final race like the one in Qatar.