Francesco Bagnaia took his debut Moto2 victory after holding off fellow VR46 academy rider Lorenzo Baldassari for the top spot in the opening round of the season in Qatar.
Taking the holeshot on the first lap, it was almost a lights to flag victory for the Sky VR46 team rider until Pons HP40’s Baldassarri, who had stalked his fellow Italian throughout the race, launched a hard attack on the final lap, but it wasn’t enough to deny the future MotoGP star his debut Moto2 win with the duo split by 0.112 across the line.
Polesitter Alex Marquez had been in touch with the Italian duo for most of the race until he was denied his chance to fight for victory as his rear brake appeared to stick on. The Spaniard battled with his Estrella Galicia Marc VDS Kalex with the rear brake disc glowing red hot, almost falling back into the grasps of Mattia Pasini in fourth until the brake unstuck leaving him able to salvage his podium attack.
Pasini crossed the line fourth, almost four seconds ahead of the factory KTM duo of Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder.
Marcel Schrotter was seventh for the Dynavolt Intact GP team ahead of team-mate Xavi Vierge with the second Sky VR46 machine of Luca Marini finishing ninth.
Jorge Navarro rounded out the top ten for the Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 squad, ahead of leading rookie Joan Mir, who had started 24th on the grid after a dismal qualifying.
Danny Kent finished best Brit after being unable to turn his strong qualifying pace into a result, crossing the line 17th for the Speed Up team after countryman Sam Lowes crashed out of the top ten following a gearbox issue at the mid-point of the race.