The stage was set for the final show of the Qatar Airways Grand Prix of Qatar on Sunday evening as the floodlights shined for MotoGP™ for the last time of 2023, but they will not be off for a long time as the Lusail International Circuit will host again the opening round of the 2024 season on March 8-10, two weeks after pre-season Qatar Test held on February 19-20. A new MotoGP™ winner was born today in Fabio Di Giannantonio as the Gresini Racing Team celebrated their second victory in a row in Qatar, while GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 Augusto Fernandez closed the top 15 as he grabbed the last point at stake. Pol Espargaro completed the penultimate race of the season in eighteenth.
After his ninth position in the Tissot Sprint on Sunday which got him a point on the day he officially became the 2023 MotoGP™ rookie of the year, Augusto Fernandez was looking to reiterate his performances on Sunday night from his twelfth position on the grid. Goosebumps on all of us at 20:00 local time (GMT+3) as the lights were on and ready for the show, and the engines were started after the MotoGP™ anthem played out. Lights went out, but Fernandez went through some spinning at the race start, just like Jorge Martin, which saw him find himself at the back in P19 after the first lap, a great shame as all his efforts from qualifying were reduced to dust. From there, everything had to be re-done for the GASGAS Tech3 rider as he sat behind teammate Pol Espargaro after Aleix Epargaro had retired. As he progressively settled into the race, his sixth lap in 1’53.879 gave him the opportunity to overtake his teammate, but a mistake saw him go back to his position a few laps later. He stayed stuck behind the number 44 for a couple of laps, and another increase of pace saw him overtaking Pol again on lap 14, and he was back in P17 behind Raul Fernandez, who passed through Franco Morbidelli the next lap. With a point on his sight, Augusto gave an extra push in the final laps, and overtook both Fernandez and Morbidelli to pass the checkered flag in P15. Augusto Fernandez scored a point in both the sprint and the main race this weekend, which has not happened a lot this season, so we take the positive despite our disappointment.
For Pol Espargaro, it was not an easy task starting from P18, but he was still going to give it a go, hoping that his tyres would not bother him as much as yesterday. He gained two positions in one lap over brother Aleix and Joan Mir, but lost both positions again. Somehow the number 44 continued to struggle with the front of his bike, and a lack of feeling prevented him from doing much more than a couple of battles with teammate Augusto Fernandez. He passed the checkered flag in eighteenth, and will be looking forward to heading back to Europe to race in Valencia, as the season will draw to an end next week, on November 24-25-26.