Terol dominates season opener in Qatar

Nico Terol dominated the season opening Qatar Grand Prix to take a comfortable win ahead of Sandro Cortese and Sergio Gadea in the 125cc class.

Terol started from pole position and was never challenged; the Spaniard led by 0.5s at the end of the first lap and was over one second per lap faster than his competitors in the early stages of the race.

Those competitors were led by Cortese but the German, celebrating his 100th Grand Prix, knew that there was nothing he could do to compete with Terol and as a result he set about racing with Efren Vazquez and Hector Faubel in the early stages.

The action between the trio was superb. Each racer charged hard through the race with Faubel actually the fastest rider amongst the group for much of proceedings. The veteran showed his speed by easily overtaking Cortese into the first corner on the third lap of the race.

It was on that lap Scottish rookie Taylor McKenzie ran wide at the final corner and his promising start to the race was blighted. The rookie had been running in the points but fell back to 18th due to his off track excursion.

McKenzie was not the only rider to push too hard in the early stages. Terol’s Aspar teammate, Adrian Martin, crashed at turn seven while battling Johan Zarco for tenth position. Martin tried in vein to hold onto his clutch and keep his hopes alive but unfortunately the Spanish youngster’s hand was trapped under the bike and clearly caused him a lot of pain. His bravery was rewarded though and he rejoined the race to gain valuable data.

At the same time the battle for second was heating up with Cortese, Faubel and Vazquez all clearly causing each other to lose time. This allowed Jonas Folger to close on the second group, from two seconds behind at quarter distance to be racing wheel to wheel with the trio just three laps later. The young German had an impressive race but ultimately his youthful exuberance would cost him later in the race.

At half distance Terol had opened a 9.5s lead from Faubel, Cortese, Vazquez, Folger and Gadea.

Gadea had gradually clawed back the time to his rivals and with eight laps to go it was clear that the Spaniard had done a great job of conserving his tyres during the opening laps. Showing his experience Gadea waited until his tyres were at their optimum before beginning to close on the battle for second. By doing this he allowed his rivals to concentrate on one another while he would swoop in late in the race and take the final step on the podium.

With five laps to go it was clear that Folger was starting to suffer from tyre wear. The German had pushed very hard to close the gap to his rivals during the early stages of the race and now it was clear that his aggressive riding had cost him tyre durability.

It was a solid race from Folger, arguably his best showing since his rookie season of 2009.

With three laps to go Cortese crossed the line and was clearly eager to start opening a gap to his rivals. The German managed to open a gap to the chasing pack but he was helped considerably by a technical problem for Faubel.

Coming into turn one it was clear that Faubel had a problem and the Spaniard ran wide and came out of the corner exceptionally slowly. He did well to recover and finish 11th.

This was the release that Cortese needed and the German went on to take second after opening a lead over Vazquez and Gadea. The Spaniards had a stirring last lap battle with Vazquez pushing his way through in the fast, flowing final sector before running wide over the kerbs and into the just four corners from home. That was all that Gadea needed to be assured of the final step on the podium after a stealthy race that saw him rise from sixth at the end of the opening lap.

In a race run in perfect conditions it was also a perfect race from Terol. This was one of the most commanding wins seen in recent years and while his victory margin was seven seconds he held a 14 second lead before easing to the finish.

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