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Latest News By September 21, 2020

Hit for six! Viñales bounces back with Misano masterpiece

The season began pretty well for Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) in Jerez as the Spaniard took two podiums and a solid haul of points, but after a tough race in Brno, a dramatic Austrian GP and then a high-speed bailout in Styria, ‘Top Gun’ arrived at Misano poised to hit back. Last weekend it didn’t quite go to plan, but take two in the Gran Premio TISSOT dell’Emilia Romagna e della Riviera di Rimini saw everything fall into place as the Spaniard seared his way to his first win of the season and catapulted himself to within one point of the Championship lead. He also becomes the sixth rider so far to stand on the top step in 2020.

Viñales broke clear early on, lost out to Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) and then started to haul the Italian back in, the number 12’s tactics readying us for a crescendo at the front. Heartbreak then hit for Bagnaia as the Italian crashed out, however, Viñales sweeping through and keeping it inch perfect to the flag for those invaluable 25 points. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) sliced through from P11 on the grid for another stunning podium in second, with more drama just behind him as Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) took third back from Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Sprinta Racing) as the latter was given a time penalty for exceeding track limits and failing to complete a Long Lap Penalty.

As to be somewhat expected, Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) got a great launch from P2 to grab the holeshot as the lights went out, with polesitter Viñales slotting into second, Quartararo initially holding onto P3 and Bagnaia making up a place to get past Pol Espargaro. Viñales didn’t take long to take the lead though, the Spaniard up the inside at Turn 4 to mug Miller as Pecco had a very close look at getting past Quartararo at Turn 8 – although there was no way through for now.

Drama then unfolded behind for San Marino GP winner Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) as Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) tucked the front and collected the Italian, Morbidelli somehow staying on and continuing but the Italian dead last…

Meanwhile at the front, Viñales had a 0.9 second lead over the line as the riders clocked onto Lap 2, but fortunes were flipped for his teammate Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) as the ‘Doctor’ was soon out of his 250th Grand Prix with Yamaha. Down at Turn 4 and home podium dreams over, Rossi remounted but had a big ask on his hands to score points.

In the meantime, Bagnaia had got past teammate Miller for P2 and Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) had charged through to third at Turn 10 but it sadly didn’t last long; the South African down at Turn 14. Bagnaia up ahead, however, was unleashing the fastest lap of the race as the Italian locked his radar firmly onto the back of Viñales’ YZR-M1, edging closer as Pol Espargaro started to do the same to him…

Bagnaia was right on Viñales on Lap 5 and by then, the duo were once again pulling away from Pol Esparagro and Quartararo, who was tucked in behind the number 44. Bagnaia set another fastest lap of the race – a 1:32.3 – and it seemed game on, with Viñales then slightly wide at Turn 4, opening the door. Bagnaia needed no second invitation and the Italian took the lead, then immediately half a second clear, although it subsequently stayed pretty constant at 0.6 seconds for a number of laps…

Behind that chess match, Mir had managed to get to the front of the battle for the lower ends of the top 10 and get some clean air in front of him – although the gap to Quartararo and the podium was 3.5 seconds on Lap 7. The top two pounded on, Bagnaia started to edge away, and Mir kept chipping away behind.

As the laps went on, the Suzuki edged closer and closer as Bagnaia stretched his legs. Not long after though, it started to turn as Viñales chipped back a tenth and then two, with the lead back down to just over a second and the last few laps looking set to cook up a storm. By that time, Mir was also under two seconds away from the podium fight but with seven to go, huge drama then unfolded. Turn 6 was the place and Bagnaia the rider, the race leader sliding out in some late heartbreak as Viñales shot past. The number 12’s lead was over four seconds then – with no one else having been able to stay near the leading duo.

The fight for the podium was then the focus. Quartararo was showing a wheel to Espargaro but the latter was defending brilliantly on his KTM… before Joan Mir finally appeared on the scene. 0.6 faster than the duo ahead of him with six laps to go, it was soon a three-rider dog fight for the remaining two spots on the podium. And also with six laps to go, Quartararo was handed a track limits warning – something that would prove to be costly for El Diablo shortly after.

With three to go, Mir struck. Turn 2 was the spot as the Spaniard shot through underneath and past Quartararo, and it wasn’t long before Mir was up to second as well. On the next lap at Turn 1, Mir was past Espargaro’s KTM and back into clear air. Quartararo then pounced on Pol at Turn 3 as well, Espargaro going from P2 to P4 in a matter of corners. It seemed that was that for the podium fight too, but there was one last shot of drama.

For exceeding track limits too many times, Quartararo was then handed a Long Lap Penalty. His only time to do it? The the last lap. Would he see it? He was just over a second clear of Espargaro and four seconds ahead of fifth place Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3), so it looked like he was going to lose P3…

Ahead on track, Viñales didn’t have any such troubles. ‘Top Gun’ rounded the last corner to take his first victory since the 2019 Malaysian GP in fine style, taking 25 vital points and moving to within one point of the top. Mir crossed the line a magnificent second to take his third rostrum in four races, and Quartararo took the chequered flag in third… but hadn’t taken the Long Lap. He was therefore demoted to P4 as it became a three-second penalty instead, handing Pol Espargaro his second podium of the season.

Behind Quartararo classified fourth, Oliveira was stunning in the second half of the race to finish P5, the Portuguese rider had serious pace but starting P15 ultimately cost the Styrian GP winner. The leading Honda across the line was Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) in P6 as the Japanese rider showed strong late-race pace to get the better of Repsol Honda Team’s Alex Marquez in seventh. The reigning Moto2™ World Champion produced his best MotoGP™ ride to date, finishing seven tenths away from Nakagami.

So where’s Dovi? The man still leading the Championship had a tougher day at Misano, but with Quartararo finishing fourth and that very points leader Andrea Dovizioso in P8, it’s the number 04 still ahead. Viñales is now level on points with Quartararo but technically behind him as he has less wins, with Mir now just four points from the title leader – madness!

Despite sitting last on the opening lap, an unwell Morbidelli recovered to salvage a brilliant P9, with fellow Italian Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) completing the top 10. Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing), Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Bradley Smith (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) were the only other finishers in 11th, 12th and 13th respectively.

Iker Lecuona (Red Bull KTM Tech3) crashed out of P6 with two and bit laps to go after stringing together a fantastic race, Rossi pulled in with 12 laps to go after his crash, and Miller encountered issues early on that he later revealed had seemingly been caused by a visor tear-off blocking the air filter. Tito Rabat (Esponsorama Racing) crashed at Turn 1 on Lap 12 – rider ok.

Four riders, four points. That’s how it stands at the top of the MotoGP™ World Championship after the Misano double-header: Dovizioso, Quartararo, Viñales and Mir the quartet leading the way. But this is 2020, and this is MotoGP™ – it could all change in the blink of an eye! With Barcelona coming up in less than a week’s time, we don’t have to wait long to witness more unrivalled premier class action… so come back for more!

MotoGP™ Podium
  1. Maverick Viñales – Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP – Yamaha – 41:55.846
  2. Joan Mir – Team Suzuki Ecstar – Suzuki – +2.425
  3. Pol Espargaro – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing – KTM – +4.528

Top Independent Team rider:

4. Fabio Quartararo – Petronas Yamaha SRT – Yamaha – +6.419*
*includes time penalty

Maverick Viñales: “Amazing, amazing job this weekend, we prepped really well for the whole race. Pecco was really fast! I was pushing a lot, I was trying to save a bit of tyre for the last ten laps, and then I started to push. I thought I was catching him, but then when he made a mistake I just tried to not crash, take the maximum points and wow. Fantastic, I’m really happy, my mentality is the same as the last weekend and last races, but we found a little bit better setup for the 20 litres at the beginning of the race. I made a mistake at Turn 4, I was pushing a lot at the beginning trying to open the gap – if were were only two riders it was good. I want to say thank you to all the people supporting me at home, because they know there have been tough times, but it seems it’s passed, now we have good luck and this is what counts! I’m very happy, I appreciate all the work and we need to continue like that, pushing very hard. We can have a lot more potential!”

Moto2™: Bastianini bolts through the chaos to get back on top

Three – almost – starts and some rain playing havoc couldn’t stop the ‘Beast’, with Bezzecchi and Lowes completing the podium.

Italtrans Racing Team’s Enea Bastianini clinched an impressive Moto2™ victory at Misano after rain played havoc at the Gran Premio TISSOT dell’Emilia Romagna e della Riviera di Rimini. Red flags were brought out after just seven laps as the heavens opened but, from the restart, and back in the dry, the ultra-aggressive Bastianini bolted clear to take the win ahead of Sky Racing Team VR46’s Marco Bezzecchi and EG 0,0 Marc VDS’ Sam Lowes. With his victory, the ‘Beast’ cut Luca Marini’s (Sky Racing Team VR46) title lead down to just five points.

On the first start it was Petronas Sprinta Racing’s Xavi Vierge managing to squeeze his way into the lead pat Marini and the hit the front of a Moto2™ race for the first time in 2020, with a strong start coming in from his Petronas Sprinta Racing teammate too as Jake Dixon settled into fifth. The Italians suffered a few dramas in the early shuffles, but the biggest drama was about to come down as rain started and the flag came out to let the riders know. By then, Bastianini had muscled to the front and started to bolt despite the worsening weather, but the Red Flag came out not long after.

The riders filtered into pitlane and a ten lap restart was announced, but as the grid reformed, with everyone on slicks, the rain suddenly got heavier again. As the Moto2™ field set off on their Warm Up lap, the entire grid instantly pointed skywards and began wagging fingers to signal it was far too wet for the race to start. The rain eventually subsided and, after a short delay, a dry-ish 10 lap dash was back underway – with Bastianini on pole as the grid formed up based on standings before the flag.

Lights out for the second time saw Marini take control into Turn 1, and Bastianini settling in behind him. The Beast struck immediately though at Turn 4, sending the pair wide and giving Vierge chance to pounce. The Spaniard took the lead and Marini lost out big time with his fellow Italian’s move dropping him back to fifth. Bastianini then hit the front at the end of the opening lap, and the plan appeared the same: BOLT.

The Italian made the most of Vierge and Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) battling over second and didn’t need a second invitation, stretching his lead out to over a second after two laps.

Next, Marini lost out to Bezzecchi for fourth place and then got beaten up by Sam Lowes over fifth place, with valuable points slipping through the fingers of the Championship leader. Meanwhile, an incredible fight was ensuing between Vierge and Schrötter, the German moving through into Turn 7 and on the exit the pair were side by side, bashing elbows for good measure. Some more contact then saw Vierge crash out, with Schrötter dropping back to fourth and then fifth as Marini sliced with his way past. Lowes found himself up to third too, trying to go with the fastest man on the track with three laps left: Marco Bezzecchi.

He was eight tenths quicker than Bastianini and suddenly, just like a week ago, Bezzecchi was hunting down the race leader at some rate. By two laps to go it was seven tenths separating the two Italians at the front of the race, with Bezzecchi visibly throwing everything at it and Lowes in close company too. As they started the final lap, it was just half a second between the leading duo.

Despite the mounting pressure, Bastianini remained calm and didn’t fold, however, crossing the line seven tenths clear to take a third intermediate class win of 2020, and his second GP win at Misano. Bezzecchi came across the line in P2 for a third consecutive top three finish, even more closely followed by Sam Lowes. Marini, meanwhile, took 13 points in fourth place and kept hold of his World Championship lead. But only just, with Bastianini now only five points adrift and breathing down his neck heading to Barcelona next weekend…

Schrötter took fifth after his earlier dramas, with Jake Dixon the next man over the line after getting the better of Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up) by three tenths. That’s Dixon’s best ever Grand Prix result and after an impressive fight for it, in the dry to boot. Rounding out the top ten were Fabio Di Giannantonio (Beta Tools Speed Up), Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Hector Garzo (FlexBox HP40), who jumped up following a one place penalty for Nicolo Bulega (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) for exceeding track limits on the final lap.

Joe Roberts (Tennor American Racing) crashed before the restart in a monster high side, rider ok.

That’s it for Moto2™ at Misano, and it’s just five points in it on the road to Barcelona. Will we see a change of lead there? Find out next weekend!

Moto2™ Podium
  1. Enea Bastianini – Italtrans Racing Team – Kalex 16:11.977
  2. Marco Bezzecchi – Sky Racing Team VR46 – Kalex +0.720
  3. Sam Lowes – EG 0,0 Marc VDS – Kalex +1.124

Enea Bastianini: “I’m really happy to be here in first place, today was a strange race because we stopped twice but after I kept good pace in the third race and it was possible to keep a bit of distance from Marco. I put the soft rear tyre on, and it was pushing a bit more on the front and Marco was really close the last two laps! But I’m happy for this victory for my team and my family, and in my town… it’s incredible!”

Moto3™: Fenati fights through to make history at Misano

The Italian takes Husqvarna’s first win and becomes the most successful Moto3™ rider in terms of wins AND podiums.

Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) was back on the top step of the podium for the first time in over a year at Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, the Italian veteran judging a last lap battle to perfection to pip compatriot Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46). In doing so, Fenati takes Husqvarna’s first Grand Prix victory and becomes the most successful rider in the Moto3™ class, overtaking both Joan Mir’s win count and Enea Bastianini’s podium record. He also becomes only the second Moto3™ rider to win more than once at Misano, alongside Alex Rins. Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) completed the podium behind the home heroes, moving to within two points of Albert Arenas’ (Gaviota Aspar Team Moto3) Championship lead.

Polesitter Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) got the initial launch off the line but Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team) ultimately fired his way into Turn 1 ahead, with Championship leader Arenas making a good start from the second row to grab P3. Arbolino’s lead didn’t last long though, with Fernandez through at Turn 5 before Arenas was also past the Italian around the outside at Turn 13.

Further back, third in the Championship John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) was 17th after the opening couple of laps, not making great headway after having started P18. As Fernandez fought it out with Arbolino, Arenas and Vietti near the front though, the top 17 were still covered by two seconds.

After crashing out seven days prior, Arenas was on a mission. The Spaniard was leading from the front early doors, before Vietti took the baton and led for a fair chunk of time. Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) was making good ground up to get the better of Fernandez and move into the top three too, and McPhee was starting to recover by the halfway point; the top 11 locked together and the British rider just behind Ogura at the back of that.

Into the final 10 laps, Vietti was making P1 his own, with Masia was now his immediate threat. Darryn Binder (CIP – Green Power) and Jeremy Alcoba (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) came into contact heading down the back straight before Turn 11 – a close call – but with eight laps remaining, Binder wasn’t fazed and was up to P4 behind Vietti, Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) and Masia. Arenas then got the better of Binder for P4 in the 11-bike freight train, before a change came courtesy of Masia at Turn 8. Rodrigo and Vietti were lucky to stay upright too, as Rodrigo came into the contact with the Italian’s rear tyre.

With five to go, Arenas was almost down at Turn 1 as he ran out of room in the slipstream and just behind, Binder suffered a huge highside as he got shuffled by it too, the South African’s stunning Sunday charge over. With three to go, Vietti was still the race leader but it was all to play for in the lead group, with Ogura was making his presence in the top three known as he got the better of Arenas. With two to go, Masia then led into Turn 1 – and it was the start of some serious, fairing-bashing action. Arenas lunged into Turn 4, but Vietti was aggressive up the inside at Turn 5 and some contact was made between the duo. Further back, Alcoba made contact with McPhee at Turn 4 as well, which left the Scot down in P10.

Vietti led over the line to start the last lap, from Arenas and Fenati, with Masia and Ogura inside the top five. Arenas got a good run down into Turn 8 and was alongside the race leader, but Vietti was late and strong on the brakes. Then, Arenas made a classy move stick into Turn 10 and led with half a lap to go, but the slipstream played its part and heading into Turn 11 as Masia stormed up the inside of Vietti – who in turn was looking for a way through on Arenas – and it got breathtakingly close at high speed. After leading heading onto the straight, Arenas then found himself down in P5 just seconds later as Masia, Vietti, Fenati and Ogura stormed their way through.

At Turn 14 Masia went defensive in the lead, but that didn’t stop Vietti lunging up the inside and the Italian ended up a bit out of shape, some slight contact was made, and the top two were wide. Reading that perfectly and slicing through was Fenati, the veteran now in the lead and looking to defend it. That he did, as Vietti couldn’t find a way through and was forced to settle for second, just holding off Ogura to keep P2 as well. Masia was forced down to P5 with Arenas getting through, although the latter just holds onto the points lead…

Fernandez finishes P6 for the fourth time in 2020 to end the race just 0.4 from victory, with Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Tech3) showing fantastic late-race pace to finish seventh. Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Kaito Toba (Red Bull KTM Ajo) were also less than a second from the race win in 8th and 9th respectively, the duo finishing ahead of McPhee who now drops to 21 points off Arenas in the standings after a tougher race.

That’s it from Misano, with another twist in the title race as Ogura and Arenas head into Barcelona just two points apart. The lightweight class go again in less than a week’s time at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya – tune in!

Moto3™ Podium
  1. Romano Fenati – Sterilgarda Max Racing Team – Husqvarna 39:30.124
  2. Celestino Vietti – Sky Racing Team VR46 – KTM +0.036
  3. Ai Ogura – Honda Team Asia – Honda +0.121

Romano Fenati: “The final lap was really crazy, in the last part of the track I thought immediately on the last lap that I didn’t know where they’d overtake me, it was a bit scary! But the feeling with the bike was really good, we were really strong on braking, I’m really happy and now it’s important to be consistent and to always be strong.”

Words and photos courtesy of www.motogp.com

 

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