Lorenzo Baldassarri snatches first win of Triumph era from Tom Luthi
Lorenzo Baldassarri claimed the first Moto2 victory of the Triumph era by 0.026 seconds, after a last-lap Qatar Grand Prix battle with Tom Luthi.
Pons rider Baldassarri hit the front early on, but came under immense pressure in the final laps from the returning Luthi, ultimately resisting on the run to the line.
Xavie Vierge took the lead away from poleman Marcel Schrotter off the line, with Baldassarri putting himself between the Marc VDS and IntactGP riders.
Baldassarri began his reign at the front on the second lap, and instantly pulled out a buffer of three tenths, which he would extend to over half a second over the next handful of laps.
Vierge began to lose ground quickly, with Schrotter, SAG's Remy Gardner and the sister Marc VDS Kalex of Alex Marquez carving past on lap seven.
This had allowed Baldassarri to open up a lead of seven tenths, though Schrotter was able to cut this down to three tenths four laps later.
Behind, Luthi had quietly made his way up from 10th in the early stages to pile the pressure on Marquez for fourth spot, which he snatched on lap 12 after a brief tussle.
Luthi would soon engage in battle with Gardner for the final rostrum place, capitalising on a mistake from the Australian at Turn 6 with six laps remaining, before passing Intact team-mate Schrotter at Turn 1 two tours later.
Baldassarri had his lead cut to just three tenths by Luthi as they started the final lap, with Luthi thinking about a move through the fast right at Turn 13.
Luthi tucked into the slipstream on the run out of the final corner, but Baldassarri prevailed by just 0.026s to claim his third career win.
Schrotter snatched a maiden podium away from Gardner on an equally dramatic blast out of the last turn, with the sister Pons bike of Augusto Fernandez close in tow in fifth spot.
Gresini's Sam Lowes mounted a spirited charge for the final podium spot in the closing laps, but came up short in sixth ahead of Marquez and Sky VR46's Luca Marini.
Enea Bastianini took top rookie honours in ninth on his Italtrans machine, with Vierge slumping to 10th in the end ahead of debutant Fabio Di Giannantonio [Speed Up], Ajo KTM's Brad Binder, Andrea Locatelli [Italtrans], RW Racing stand-in Jesko Raffin and reigning Moto3 world champion Jorge Martin [Ajo].
Nicolo Bulega [Sky VR46] and Iker Lecuona [American Racing] were involved in a collision at the start, with Speed Up's Jorge Navarro also failing to make it through the first corner.