Starting from the first pole position of his career Stefan Bradl took the fourth victory of his career after dominating the first Moto2 race of the season. The German, riding a Kalex, was in superb form and opened such a commanding lead in the early stages that he was never challenged throughout proceedings.
Bradl was joined on the front row of the grid by Marc Marquez and Thomas Luthi. Much was expected of Marquez after his astounding performances in qualifying and practice but the rookie showed that there is still much for him to learn in the intermediate class. Having made a poor start Marquez fell back to 11th and had to contend with the legendary hard racing of the Moto2 midfield.
Over the course of the weekend Marquez showed that he had more than enough speed to compete at the front of the field this season but today will have thought the reigning 125cc champion some valuable lessons about how difficult it is to compete in this class once you fall into the pack.
Marquez made some progress in the early laps, including passing compatriot Julian Simon, but on the fifth lap sparks flew under the Qatar floodlights after the 18 year old spectacularly highsided out of the race. It was an ignominious end to a promising weekend for Marquez but he showed that he will be competing at the front from the very start of the season.
While Bradl was already clear at the front of the field the battle for second was heating up. Yuki Takahashi came through from fourth on the grid to race hard with Thomas Luthi and Julez Cluzel. As they battled for position they began costing each other valuable time and the group behind closed in rapidly. This group was led by Andrea Iannone with Alex de Angelis also looking particularly fast.
When Iannone joined the battle for second it was clear that there would be fireworks with the aggressive Italian keen to take a step on the rostrum in the season opener. Tyre wear has been a problem all weekend and by half distance it was clear that riders were starting to slide more often. Coming into the final corner Luthi backed his bike into the right hander and Iannone managed to take a sweeping line and blasted past don the home straight.
At this point it looked as though the Italian would set about closing down the lead of Bradl but ultimately he was not fast enough to break away from his rivals and Iannone, a three time winner last year, had to battle it out until the flag with Luthi, Takahasi and de Angelis.
At half distance Ratthapark Wilairot joined Kev Coghlan, Marqez, Anthony Wes and Mashel al Naimi on the sidelines after crashing out. Even in retirement there was much for the Thai rider to be pleased about following his road bike accident over the winter while riding pillion in Thailand.
With three laps to go Iannone started to increase his pace and open a gap to his pursuers. At the same time Luthi outbraked Takahashi into turn ten and it was clear that Iannone was secure in second place and that the last lap battle would be for third position between Luthi, Takahashi and the unusually reserved de Angelis.
The San Marino rider was soon as aggressive as ever as he saw an opening ahead of him when Takahashi braked too late, and pushed Luthi wide, at the first turn. De Angelis now sensed that he had the chance to take third and his body language looked much more impressive as he battled with his rivals.
Takahashi was clearly struggling for tyre life and halfway around the final lap de Angelis made his move under braking into turn ten. Luthi had by now opened a sufficient gap to de Angelis and took a relatively comfortable third place at the flag behind Bradl and Iannone.
Behind the podium battle was Simone Corsi who pipped the fading Julez Cluzel. Michele Pirro finished ahead of the impressive Bradley Smith and the surprisingly poor Julian Simon.
While it was a very quiet race at the front for Bradl his performance was superb and to dominate in Moto2 is one of the most challenging tasks in Grand Prix motorcycle racing. The German was a title contender in 125cc racing and now that the Kalex looks to be a pacesetter Bradl is set for a much improved 2011 season.