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Quartararo Scorches To First MotoGP™ Win Amid Drama For Marquez

MotoGP™ is back. In a day of drama, thrills and spills, Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) claimed his first MotoGP™ victory – and France’s first since 1999 – in a truly stunning and dramatic Gran Premio Red Bull de España, putting an Independent Team Yamaha on the top step for the first time in MotoGP™ and taking the Petronas Yamaha SRT team’s first win. The Frenchman capitalised on a Lap 5 mistake from race leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) as he suffered a run off, and Quartararo didn’t look back – pulling the pin to stamp some authority on Round 1 for the premier class.

We witnessed a stunning comeback from the number 93 after his mistake, with the reigning World Champion unleashing unbelievable pace mid-race – but he then suffered a huge crash at Turn 4 with four laps remaining, breaking his right humerus and soon heading for surgery. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) put in an impressive performance to bank 20 points and take second in the wake of the drama, with Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) completing the podium after a late lunge on Jack Miller (Pramac Racing).

Viñales got a storming launch from the middle of the front row and grabbed the holeshot into Turn 1, with Miller getting his Ducati off the line like a rocket to initially go P2. The Australian was wide though which let Marquez come through into second after a fairly average getaway, with polesitter Quartararo slotting into P3 at Turn 2 as he then got the better of Miller.

However, the Desmosedici grunt saw Miller get up the inside of Quartararo down into the Dani Pedrosa corner, as Viñales got out the seat around Turn 8 in an early scare for the number 12. Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) was then past Quartararo on Lap 2 as the Frenchman initially fell back, but he was back through at the final corner on that lap as Marquez and Viñales went toe-to-toe at Turn 4, before Marquez managed to make the move stick at Dani Pedrosa corner. Was this the break?

Lap 5 would prove a game-changer and say no. Going through Turn 4, we witnessed something we’ve seen so many times before – a miraculous save from the reigning Champion. Somehow, the number 93 picked his HRC machine up from an almost certain crash and managed to keep it upright through the gravel, coming back on the track in 16th. A huge moment, but it was far from race over for Marc Marquez. Far, far from it…

At the front, Viñales was leading for a couple of laps, but Quartararo had got the better of Miller and was soon right on the tailpipes of the number 12 Yamaha. A mistake at Pedrosa corner was then followed by another one heading intoLorenzo corner on Lap 9 after the pace had slowed into the 1:39s, and as Viñales went wide, Quartararo and Miller were through. Slightly further back, however, attentions we starting to turn to Marc Marquez.

In just five laps, Marquez had managed to get himself from P16 to P10 and was lapping around a second quicker than most of the leading group. Lap 12 saw Marquez set a 1:38.3 – the fastest lap of the race – that was a good 0.4 faster than Quartararo, and even more than the riders in the podium hunt. Lap 13 soon passed and doing the passing was Marquez. He’d got the better of Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3) and a struggling Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) to move up into P8, and a podium finish seemed well within his grasp. At the Lap 15 stage, Quartararo’s lead snuck past the two-second mark for the first time, but the shark music was playing as the cameras started to show an orange missile quickly making its way towards the back of the fight for the podium places.

With 10 to go, Marquez was a second quicker than third place Viñales, and the reigning Champion getting back into a podium position now seemed a formality rather than a possibility. With eight laps to go, Marquez was just two seconds away from the podium as he hunted and passed Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT), Bagnaia, Dovizioso… suddenly, Marquez had Miller and Viñales right in front of him.

Quartararo was over five seconds clear, but all eyes were on Marquez vs Miller. Six laps to go, Turn 13 was Marquez’ chosen passing place on Miller but the Australian bit straight back at Turn 1. A man on a mission, Marquez was straight back up the inside at Turn 2 and made the move stick. Now, Viñales was next on the list – and he would prove the rider right behind Marquez when the eight-time Champion ran off track at Turn 4.

Coming across the line with four laps remaining, Marquez was plotting his move into P2. However, there was about to be another twist – and a vast one at that. Coming out of Turn 3, Marquez was launched off his RC213V in a vicious way. Tumbling heavily through the gravel, the reigning Champion was taken to the medical centre – and has a broken right humerus.

Back at the front, Quartararo crossed the line to take an incredible maiden MotoGP™ victory, making some history and converting some searing premier class pace into a winner’s trophy. Viñales was able to grind out a P2 despite struggling with his front tyre from “lap seven or eight”, and the battle for the final podium spot went down to the final lap. With two to go, Dovizioso made his move on Miller at Turn 6 to hold P3, with Morbidelli then almost crashing after colliding with Miller on the inside of the corner. This allowed Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) through in P5 – the Spaniard in the fight all race – but Morbidelli would eventually get the better of Espargaro at the last corner, on the last lap. Viñales took P2 from Dovizioso, with Miller leading Morbidelli and Espargaro over the line. P2-P6 were covered by just 2.3 seconds.

Bagnaia couldn’t keep up the pace in the latter stages as the Italian slipped out of contention and finished P7, with Oliveira placing P8 – his equal best result in the premier class. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) crossed the line ninth, with Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) closing out the top 10.

There were only 15 finishers in a brutal MotoGP™ race in Jerez. Johann Zarco (Reale Avintia Racing), Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) – who recovered from an incident in the opening stages to sometimes sit as the fastest man on track – Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) and Aprilia Racing Team Gresini’s Bradley Smith completing the points. Rossi suffered an issue and was out of the race with seven to go, with Iker Lecuona (Red Bull KTM Tech3), Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) also not finishing.

There aren’t enough superlatives to describe what we just witnessed in the MotoGP™ class as 2020 kicks off in style, but with some serious drama on the side. Tune in again next weekend for the Gran Premio Red Bull de Andalucia!

MotoGP™ Podium
  1. Fabio Quartararo – Petronas Yamaha SRT – Yamaha – 41:23.796
  2. Maverick Viñales – Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP – Yamaha – +4.603
  3. Andrea Dovizioso – Ducati Team – Ducati – +5.946

Fabio Quartararo: “The best moment of my life for sure. I haven’t realised it yet. It feels so strange without the fans, I would love them to be here to cheer with them. But honestly, this race was for them, for all the people affected by coronavirus and for my family, my brother always supporting me, my parents…

“It was a really tough race because first of all, I didn’t do a very good start. I was fifth behind Pecco and Jack and I knew that behind the Ducatis, it’s so difficult to do our corner speed, especially on the last sector. I overtook Pecco in the last corner, also Jack. Then I saw Marc’s mistakes and then it was difficult to catch Maverick. He did a small mistake in Turn 6 and then I did my own mistake but honestly it felt so strange because yesterday in FP4, the grip was really good.

“After the Moto2 race we know the grip is normally low, but I didn’t expect that much. If you check the pace from yesterday and today, it was almost one second slower. So it was difficult to understand the track, but the most important thing is that we had our first victory today.”

Moto2™: Marini Storms Jerez For First Win Of 2020

The Italian holds firm in the face of pressure as Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Nagashima and Martin complete the podium.

Sky Racing Team VR46’s Luca Marini clinched an impressive victory at the Gran Premio Red Bull de España after holding off a charging Tetsuta Nagashima (Red Bull KTM Ajo) in the final half of the race, the Italian taking the chequered flag for a fourth career Moto2™ win and his third in seven races. Nagashima was on the podium once more after his Qatar GP win, joined this time by teammate Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo).

Poleman Martin took the holeshot, with impressive rookie Aron Canet (Inde Aspar Team Moto2) moving into second from Row 2 of the grid. However, it was a nightmare start for HDR Heidrun Speed Up’s Jorge Navarro as the Spaniard crashed out on the exit of Turn 1 after a firm touch from Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46), and further down the field, there were some elbows from Sam Lowes (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and Marcel Schrotter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) down the start-finish straight, in fourth and fifth by the end of Lap 1.

At the end of Lap 2, Marini started to make his way to the front, first moving past Canet for second place. But World Championship leader Nagashima was keen to not let the Italian get the jump on him and he quickly followed him through, with Marini then hitting the front with 20 laps to go thanks to an extremely smooth move through Turn 8. Once again though, it didn’t take long for Nagashima to stay on the leader’s tail by diving past Martin at the final corner on the very same lap.

Now in the lead, Marini seemed to decide it was time to pull the pin and see if anyone could match his pace, immediately pulling out a half a second advantage in just one lap as the lead group began to stretch. Teammate Bezzecchi went down out of third place just moments after squeezing in front of Martin at Turn 8, too, before Schrötter crashed out one lap later, this time out fifth place at Turn 11. It was beginning to turn into a race of attrition in the baking hot, tricky conditions at the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto.

With 13 laps remaining, were we starting to see a repeat of Qatar as Nagashima set a new fastest lap of the race? Not this time, as the laps ticked by with Nagashima only managing to close in by half a tenth and Marini holding firm. The battle for the podium was getting closer than ever though, with Martin coming under all sorts of pressure from Lowes, with the Brit cutting the gap down to less than a second in the fight for the final podium place.

Suddenly though, Nagashima reeled Marini in by 0.439 seconds with only five laps to go and Sky Racing Team VR46 held their breath. It wasn’t to be though, and Marini kept cool under the pressure to take his first win of the year; Nagashima forced to settle for second.

Martin took the final place on the podium, with Lowes in fourth and Canet ending up in fifth in only his second intermediate class race. He was five seconds clear of teammate Hafizh Syahrin, with the Malaysian enjoying his best performance since returning to the class from MotoGP™ as he took sixth.

ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team’s Remy Gardner took seventh ahead of Lorenzo Baldassarri (FlexBox HP40), with the Italian unable to make it three consecutive Moto2™ victories in Jerez after success in 2018 and 2019. Completing the top ten were Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) and Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing), with Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Forward Racing), Hector Garzo (Flexbox HP 40), Augusto Fernandez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), Nicolo Bulega (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) and Simone Corsi (MV Agusta Forward Racing) rounding out the points.

That’s it from the Spanish GP but not from Jerez – rejoin us next weekend for another stunner in Andalucia.

Moto2™ Podium
  1. Luca Marini – Sky Racing Team VR46 – Kalex 39:23.297
  2. Tetsuta Nagashima – Red Bull KTM Ajo – Kalex +1.271
  3. Jorge Martin – Red Bull KTM Ajo – Kalex +4.838

Luca Marini: “It was a very good race, I think in Qatar it could have been the same if we didn’t have the problem with the front, like Jorge and Tetsu were also so strong in Qatar. I think we had to really work a lot on race pace and we started well from Friday. I need to improve a bit in qualifying, but the second row was quite good for the race. It was very hot, although not like for MotoGP!”

Moto3™: Arenas Wins A Classic Moto3™ Melee To The Line

The Spaniard doubles down in 2020 as the final corner serves up some drama for the lightweight class.

It’s 50 points from 50 for Moto3™ Championship leader Albert Arenas (Gaviota Aspar Team Moto3) after the Spaniard emerged victorious from the stunning and dramatic lightweight class race at the Gran Premio Red Bull de España. On the last lap, title challenger John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) crashed on the exit of Jorge Lorenzo corner on the final lap, with Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) and Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team) slicing through to stand on the Jerez rostrum.

Off the line, polesitter Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) got the perfect launch, as did second-place Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46), but it wasn’t the same story for McPhee as the Petronas Sprinta Racing rider got swamped and ended up in P8 on the opening lap from the front row of the grid. Turn 1 saw two fallers as Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) and Carlos Tatay (Reale Avintia Moto3) tangled, thankfully unhurt, as Suzuki started to push at the front. A three-tenth gap would soon get swallowed up by the classic Moto3™ freight train though.

The riders were line astern but coming down the back straight, it was almost disaster for Arbolino. The Italian was in the slipstream and went to the inside, caught the grass and the bike spat him out the seat. A scary, scary moment that could have ended more than just Arbolino’s race, but thankfully it was a lucky escape. In the early stages though eyes were on Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) as the Spaniard proved a man on a mission – going from the back of the grid to P10 on the opening three laps.

Arbolino was the fastest man on circuit though as he slotted himself into P2, undeterred by his moment and splitting the Sky Racing Team VR46 bikes of leader Celestino Vietti and Andrea Migno. With the top 17 riders split by two seconds – Moto3™ was well and truly back. Vietti was the man who held the lightweight class baton for a number of laps, with Arbolino and Arenas looking feisty behind the number 13 sophomore as the positions inside the top 10 continued to change corner by corner.

With 12 to go, Arbolino led for the first time but soon, reigning Junior World Champion Jeremy Alcoba (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) and Championship leader Arenas were at the front, with CIP Green Power’s Darryn Binder now second from 21st on the grid – something we’re very used to seeing from the South African as he made some incredible trademark progress. And after a sluggish start, McPhee was now second behind Arenas – the top two from Qatar – as the riders approached the final 10 laps.

As Garcia was handed a long lap penalty for exceeding track limits though, his dream of the fairytale, 2016-echoing-victory-from-the-back seemed to fade, and the fight went on without him.

With eight laps remaining it really was anyone’s to win, with the top 12 joined at the hip in a classic Moto3™ encounter, but Red Bull KTM Tech3 duo Ayumu Sasaki and Deniz Öncü seemed to be closing in on the leading group – as was Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team), joining them in reeling in the freight train.

With four to go, McPhee made his move. An aggressive pass on Arenas at Turn 11 was followed by a two for one purchase at Turn 13 on Arbolino and Binder. With two to go, McPhee led but now Arbolino and Arenas were getting impatient. Arbolino struck for the lead as disaster struck for Binder, who slid out so close to the end.

On the final lap, McPhee was back in the lead as the number 17 dived up the inside of Arbolino, but down the back straight the Italian was tucked back into the slipstream and hit back at Pedrosa corner. Arenas then got past McPhee at Turn 9, and finally Jorge Lorenzo corner – the last corner – awaited. And drama followed.

McPhee dived up the inside but ran slightly wide, with Vietti then touching Arbolino on the exit, who in turn made contact with McPhee – who crashed with the finish line in sight. There was no such drama for Arenas, who crossed the line after a perfectly-judged final corner for his second win of the season and to increase his Championship lead.

Ogura had a wonderful final handful of laps to finish second for his second podium of the season, with Arbolino forced to settle for P3 after going into the last corner first. Migno claimed P4 as he picked up his first points of 2020, as teammate Vietti finished P5 to also earn his maiden points haul of the season. Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was a protagonist in the lead group for the entirety as the Spaniard collected P6 after finishing P10 in Qatar, with Suzuki and SIC58 teammate Niccolo Antonelli finishing 8th and 9th despite coming across the line less than a second behind the winner – that’s how close it was again in Moto3™. Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) completed the top 10.

Ayumu Sasaki (Red Bull KTM Tech 3), Stefano Nepa (Gaviota Aspar Team Moto3), Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team), teammate  Alonso Lopez and Jeremy Alcoba completed the points.

All it all it was another incredible race, and we expected nothing less from the Moto3™ riders as they now get set to do it all again at the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto in seven days time. Can Arenas continue his 100% win streak in 2020? We’ll find out shortly…

Moto3™ Podium
  1. Albert Arenas – Gaviota Aspar Team Moto3 – KTM 39:26.256
  2. Ai Ogura – Honda Team Asia – Honda +0.340
  3. Tony Arbolino – Rivacold Snipers Team – Honda +0.369

Albert Arenas: “Incredible. This race was amazing, really hard, because of the heat and the tyre, the rear soft was so slippery at the end but I knew I had a good feeling when the tyre came down and I could stay fast in the corners despite the spin. But I’m so happy for the team, we made a last minute change before the race, I had a different strategy in Warm Up, I went out the pits and alone, I think I was 24th, bit backwards but I was working for the race. We refined that and… incredible. The last lap I said ok the podium is a good result, but I knew that if I did the right things at the right moment the victory was possible. Tony closed the door really well but I had made an outside overtake in thef final corner so I knew it was possible, then I saw McPhee was too fast and I waited… incredible, man. Thanks everyone, I’m really happy.”

Words and photos courtesy of www.motogp.com
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