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MotoGP Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was the victor in a Gran Premio Octo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini duel to the... #SanMarinoGP Misano – raceday roundup: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3

MotoGP

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was the victor in a Gran Premio Octo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini duel to the last lap, but the reigning Champion seriously had to work for it. The man who pushed him all the way? Rookie Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT), who led for most of the race…and attacked straight back when Marquez did on the final lap. It wasn’t quite enough and the 93 was able to return the favour, but it was a classic encounter between the two and another incredible show of pace from both. Polesitter Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) completed the podium.

Viñales was on pole and the Spaniard made it count, keeping the lead heading into Turn 1 as third place Quartararo grabbed P2, with Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) dropping back slightly from second on the grid. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) pounced for P3, with Marquez giving himself work to do after a wobble off the line. But work is exactly what the seven-time Champion did, grabbing third from Morbidelli at Turn 8 as the leading trio throughout the weekend found themselves 1-2-3 on Lap 1.

Sure enough, the three started to stretch away. The gap on Lap 2 was already up to 0.7 over Morbidelli in fourth and it was Viñales leading the way, but not for long. Quartararo was right behind his fellow Yamaha rider and getting a good run out of Turn 10, the rookie dived past to lead. Marquez wasn’t going to waste any time either, and Lap 3 saw the 93 set the fastest lap of the race as Quartararo started to pull away. Having seen that, Marquez dived under Viñales at Turn 10 on Lap 4 and locked his radar onto the Petronas machine at the front, as Viñales struggled to hold the pace. Further back, Espargaro was still able to make trouble Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and second in the Championship Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) for P5 as the KTM rider continued to impress.

Back at the front, Quartararo had a 0.8 lead over Marquez, with Viñales slipping to 1.5 seconds back on Lap 6. The Frenchman’s advantage wouldn’t stay above half a second for long though as the Repsol Honda began to reel the Petronas Yamaha in; the reigning World Champion and the MotoGP™ rookie locked in a face off. Viñales then seemed out of range nearly three seconds back, but late race pace has often been a calling card for the number 12…

In the battle for sixth, Rins was given a long lap penalty shortly after finally dispatching Espargaro’s KTM, but soon it didn’t matter for the Silverstone winner. The Suzuki man was suddenly down at Turn 4, leaving his third place overall in the standings under attack.

Rossi pressured Morbidelli for fourth, Viñales was at a fairly constant gap, and Quartararo remained nigh on faultless at the front. There was no sign of the 20-year-old buckling under the pressure, with the gap between the two hovering at two tenths.

The laps ticked by and still there was no change, with the Frenchman holding firm. Marquez was fierce on the brakes coming into Turn 10, but ‘El Diablo’ was a demon at picking the bike up onto the straight. There was simply nothing splitting the two, and Viñales was then starting to close the gap…

Onto the final lap, the number 93 was about to strike. Marquez had the run on Quartararo and led into Turn 1, but Quartararo got a good run out of Turn 2 and Turn 3 to bite straight back. Into Turn 4 they went, Quartararo was back in front, but the back straight and Turn 8 provided a golden passing opportunity and Marquez got it stopped into the left-hander – slicing back into the lead. Now it was Marquez’ to lose, with no way through for Quartararo at Turn 10, although the Yamaha got a good run down through Turn 11 and 12. As the tight left of Turn 14 approached, the Frenchman was right behind the Spaniard. Marquez went defensive and was slow mid-corner, Quartararo tried to cut back…but there was no way through as the Yamaha almost touched the rear wheel of the Honda. Subsequently, Quartararo had to sit up, and that was sadly game over. The reigning Champion returned to winning ways after two consecutive second places, winning in enemy territory and overtaking Mike Hailwood’s Grand Prix win record in the process – 77 is now his tally. And his points lead? 93.

Quartararo’s second, however, made him ‘the real winner’, according to Marquez, and the Frenchman is the top Independent Team rider once again. Viñales didn’t quite have enough on Sunday afternoon for the men ahead of him in the end, but a fifth podium of the season continues his consistent form of late to edge clear of teammate Rossi in the Championship.

Speaking of ‘The Doctor’, it wasn’t a home GP podium Rossi would have been looking for, but a great fight with Morbidelli and a third consecutive P4 is a good turn around for the nine-time World Champion since summer break. For Morbidelli, a strong and consistent weekend ends with a fourth P5 of the year – a nice way to celebrate his 100th Grand Prix race. All four Yamahas inside the top five at Misano is also promising for the Iwata factory.

Ultimately Dovizioso could do no more than sixth at the venue he won at last season, with Pol Espargaro next up in P7 as a solid reward for his – and KTM’s – impressive weekend. Upon his return from injury, Joan Mir was the sole Team Suzuki Ecstar finisher in P8, with Pramac Racing’s Jack Miller recovering from P16 on the grid to grab ninth ahead of fellow GP19 rider Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) in P10.

Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol), teammate Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu), wildcard Michele Pirro (Ducati Team) and Pramac Racing’s Francesco Bagnaia crashed out of the race – riders ok.

Moto2

Augusto Fernandez (FlexBox HP 40) secured his third win of the season as the Moto2™ race at the GP Octo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini came down to the wire, with the Spaniard going toe to toe with Fabio Di Giannantonio (+Ego Speed Up) on the final lap to deny the home hero. Championship leader Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) completed the podium, a little back from the controversy.

Di Giannantonio held position off the line at the Italian grabbed the holeshot from pole position, with Marquez losing out slightly as the lights went out as the Spaniard initially dropped to P6. Fernandez slotted into second behind ‘Diggia’, with Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) getting a lightning start from P7 to climb to P3.

Home hero Di Giannantonio had Fernandez glued to the back of him and was pushing in the early stages, the Italian out the seat coming out of Turn 2 on Lap 2 in a lucky close call for the race leader. Despite that, the rookie set the fastest lap of the race as the top two started to stretch away…

Meanwhile, Marquez had recovered to get himself up to third after passing Lüthi, with Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) losing the front at Turn 10 to allow the duo through – the Australian just staying on board his Kalex. Marquez was then chasing Di Giannantonio and Fernandez, with the gap over half a second and Lüthi going with him.

On Lap 6, the top four were nearly two seconds clear of Gardner and Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), with Di Giannantonio keeping his cool at the front. However, Lap 9 saw Fernandez make a first move. The Spaniard swooped around the outside at Turn 1 to have the inside line at Turn 2 – a classic Misano move – but Di Giannantonio didn’t let P1 go without a fight. The Speed Up rider had the inside line for Turn 3 and although Fernandez would get him back to lead, ‘Diggia’ fought back at Turn 8 and Marquez pounced on his title rival, too. Fernandez was down to P3, with Di Giannantonio then holding a half-second advantage over the Championship leader.

With 13 laps to go, Fernandez was back into P2 as Di Giannantonio held a 0.7 lead. But the Kalex rider had the bit between his teeth as he hunted the Speed Up, clawing back Di Giannantonio’s advantage to half a second on the next lap. The gap then stayed fairly constant between the top two, with Marquez just losing touch to sit around a second off the lead. But with seven laps left, Fernandez was closer, seemingly having an advantage in the latter half of the lap, with Di Giannantonio holding the edge in the first half. But then the Spaniard had a huge front-end scare at Turn 10…and ‘Diggia’ was handed a track limits warning.

Five to go, four to go, three to go. Di Giannantonio was holding firm with Fernandez swarming behind: a dream debut home win vs vital points in the Championship. Who would prevail? Fernandez was piling on the pressure with two laps remaining and heading onto the final lap there was nothing between them. Fernandez then pounced, taking the outside line around Turn 1 to grab the inside at Turn 2 – but he was in hot and Di Giannantonio got the switchback once again.

The latter then made a small mistake on the exit of Turn 4 to give Fernandez – not that he needed it – that little extra scent of the win. Turn 8 passed by, as did Turn 10. But, with a good run out of the tight right-hander onto the back straight, Fernandez was in the tow. The Spaniard ran out a little wide at Turn 11 but then, the number 40 went for it. Slight contact and elbows out, Fernandez sat Di Giannantonio up and that was all she wrote, with the Spaniard’s aggression moving him to within 26 points of Marquez’ lead.

Marquez takes a podium away from Misano and heads to his home GP at MotorLand Aragon still in control, with Lüthi not quite keep tabs on the number 73 as the Swiss rider picked up his best result since Assen in P4. Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) took his best finish of the season in fifth after a solid ride at his team’s home race, the British rider finishing just ahead of Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Brad Binder after an impressive ride saw the South African coming from P16 on the grid. +Ego Speed Up’s Jorge Navarro crossed the line eighth after starting from 15th, another who made progress through the field.

Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) made a good start but eventually slipped down to eighth place, the Spaniard beating home rider Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) by just over a second – although the rookie returning from injury took a top ten on his 100th GP start. Said duo were able to capitalise on Lorenzo Baldassarri’s (FlexBox HP 40) late long lap penalty for exceeding track limits as he closed out the top 10 at his home GP.

After a strong weekend, ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team’s Gardner and Tetsuta Nagashima crashed out of contention – riders ok. Home heroes Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) and Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) crashed out too, with Adam Norrodin (Petronas Sprinta Racing) the other faller on Sunday afternoon.

Moto3

Tatsuki Suzuki secured an emotional victory for SIC58 Squadra Corse at Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, putting in a faultless ride at the Gran Premio Octo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini to beat John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) to the top step for his maiden win. There were also a couple of twists in the Championship, with points leader Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) only able to take P8 after a time penalty for exceeding track limits and key rival Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) retiring with a bike problem.

Suzuki started on pole and front and centre is where he remained off the line, with Arbolino initially leapfrogging Canet before exchanging the lead with Suzuki. The riders settled on the opening couple of laps, but there was to be plenty of drama to come.

Running third on Lap 4, Canet suddenly slowed. The man sitting second in the Championship had an issue with his KTM heading down into Turn 8, with Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) and Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) then crashing out at the exit of Turn 5. A helpless Canet coasted back to the pits as his title hopes took another hit and, despite getting going again briefly, he would ultimately retire.

That left Lorenzo Dalla Porta with an open goal and after a chaotic lap, he was in third but Suzuki and Arbolino were now a second up the road. WWR’s Jaume Masia and Andrea Migno were on the prowl too as the duo joined Dalla Porta in trying to close the leaders down. They did, and by Lap 8 there was a lead group of five starting to lock horns as the battle heated up. The lead group were 1.5 clear of the chasing pack, but once Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) was able to get into P6, the Japanese rookie started making headway.

With eight laps, to go Ogura was seven-tenths faster than race leader Suzuki. The Honda rider had reeled in the leaders and seeing Ogura’s rapid progress, McPhee then put the pedal to the metal and started to make ground on the front runners, a stunning recovery after having been P18 on Lap 1. With six to go, the top seven were all together and a Moto3™ royal rumble was boiling up at Misano.

Dalla Porta was in the thick of it, but the Italian was given a track limits warning to take into consideration in the heat of battle – and that would ultimately bite back later in the race. With six laps to go, Suzuki surrendered the lead to Masia but the Spaniard slipped to seventh over only a few corners a few laps later, with the Japanese rider then back in the driver’s seat. Heading onto the last lap that remained the case, as Suzuki led Arbolino.

Dalla Porta and Masia dueled at Turn 2 just behind and that ultimately cost them a podium place as they slipped to over half a second back, and then there was drama at Turn 8. Migno tagged the back of Arbolino and crashed, taking Ogura with him. What did that mean? Suzuki vs Arbolino vs McPhee.

The Brit attacked Arbolino at Turn 12, but Suzuki remained untouched, and the Japanese rider put in a faultless final lap to take his maiden win at his team’s home race, at the track named after Marco Simoncelli – emotional and fitting for ‘Callaghan’. McPhee completed his stunning comeback in second, leaving Arbolino to complete the podium in third – although the Italian makes serious gains on Canet in the Championship, now only eight points off the second-placed Spaniard.

Masia claimed P4 as Dalla Porta was penalised three seconds for exceeding track limits – damaging for the Championship as he was classified in P8. That lifted home hero Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46) up to P5, with Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) taking an impressive sixth on his comeback from injury, having started in a lowly P16. Because of his teammate’s penalty, Silverstone winner Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) takes a P7, just ahead of Dalla Porta.

Filip Salac (Redox PrüstelGP) took his best result so far in P9, with rookie Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) rounding out the top 10.

That’s it from Misano and a race of drama and attrition that could prove pivotal come the end of the year. Will Aragon switch things up again? We race again next weekend at MotorLand.