Petronas SRT Yamaha rider Franco Morbidelli took his maiden MotoGP win in the San Marino Grand Prix at Misano, as his erstwhile championship leader team-mate Fabio Quartararo crashed twice.
Yamaha was expected to dominate the race after locking out the top four on the grid yet only Morbidelli proved out of reach for rival bikes.
Poleman Maverick Vinales was sluggish off the line, dropping behind Morbidelli and works Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi but staying ahead of Quartararo – who himself paid for a subpar start and slipped behind the Ducati ‘rocket’ of Jack Miller.
Morbidelli then defended hard from his mentor Rossi at Turn 8 to maintain the early lead, while Miller forced himself in the middle of the Yamaha quartet by sliding down the inside of Vinales at the Turn 9 right-hander for third.
With Vinales the sole rider to select the hard rear tyre and off the pace, he began to hold up Quartararo as the top three started to break clear up ahead – and on lap six, as Vinales slipped to a second and a half back from the lead, Quartararo launched it down the inside of Vinales to pick up fourth place.
But just as he looked set to rejoin the lead battle, Quartararo’s Yamaha folded at Turn 4 the next time around and he fell, rejoining the race a distant 20th.
With Quartararo and Vinales’ dramas providing a buffer and Miller soon beginning to lose contact with two leading Yamahas, Rossi put heavy pressure on Morbidelli through the first few laps, yet after the 10-lap mark Morbidelli suddenly started to break away.
Rossi had no answer to his protege’s escape, fading to two seconds adrift over the next few laps and finally coming under pressure as the early breakaway was negated.
However, it wasn’t Miller who reeled in the seven-time world champion but Suzuki’s Alex Rins and Pramac Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia, the pair having made quick work of a struggling Vinales and then dispatched Miller with similar ease.
By the 20th lap, both were right in Rossi’s wheeltracks, and with Rins unable to get past, he was left vulnerable to a brave attack from Bagnaia at Curvone – which then allowed the Pramac Ducati rider to clear Rossi at the same rapid right-hander a lap later for second place.
With Morbidelli nearly three seconds up the road by then, Ducati 2021 works ride contender Bagnaia looked to have second wrapped up – yet having quickly gone half a second clear of Rossi, he then fell back into the Yamaha man’s clutches.
Yet Bagnaia – making his return after a three-race absence due to a femur fracture – narrowly held on to second and a maiden podium, while both Rossi and Rins fell prey to a late charge by Suzuki’s Joan Mir.
Mir picked off Rins on the start-finish straight at the end of the penultimate lap, went through on Rossi a few corners later and came up just 0.073s short of overtaking Bagnaia too.
Behind Rossi and Rins, Vinales arrested his early-race slump to claim sixth place, his pace having improved substantially in the second half of the race.
Ducati factory rider Andrea Dovizioso saw off LCR Honda’s Takaaki Nakagami and a struggling Miller to take seventh, and has taken over the championship lead in the process. Nakagami was then demoted behind Miller post-race for exceeding track limits.
Pol Espargaro won a three-bike intra-KTM battle for 10th, as the Austrian manufacturer struggled to replicate its form from Brno and the Red Bull Ring.
Quartararo, who had rejoined the race in 20th, fell again on the 18th lap and retired, with Avintia Ducati’s Tito Rabat joining him among the retirements and Aprilia’s Bradley Smith crashing too, but going on to finish 19th.
Quartararo now trails Dovizioso by six points, with another nine riders within 28 points of the championship lead after six races of 14.
|Pos||Name||Team||Bike||Laps||Laps Led||Total Time||Fastest Lap||Pitstops||Pts|
|1||Franco Morbidelli||Petronas Yamaha SRT||Yamaha||27||27||42m02.272s||1m32.748s||0||25|
|2||Francesco Bagnaia||Pramac Racing||Ducati||27||0||+2.217s||1m32.706s||0||20|
|3||Joan Mir||Team Suzuki MotoGP||Suzuki||27||0||+2.29s||1m32.816s||0||16|
|4||Valentino Rossi||Yamaha Factory Racing||Yamaha||27||0||+2.643s||1m33.036s||0||13|
|5||Alex Rins||Team Suzuki MotoGP||Suzuki||27||0||+4.044s||1m32.835s||0||11|
|6||Maverick Viñales||Yamaha Factory Racing||Yamaha||27||0||+5.383s||1m32.741s||0||10|
|7||Andrea Dovizioso||Ducati Team||Ducati||27||0||+10.358s||1m33.024s||0||9|
|8||Takaaki Nakagami||LCR Honda||Honda||27||0||+10.839s||1m33.208s||0||8|
|9||Jack Miller||Pramac Racing||Ducati||27||0||+11.155s||1m33.003s||0||7|
|10||Pol Espargaró||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||27||0||+12.03s||1m32.942s||0||6|
|11||Miguel Oliveira||Red Bull KTM Tech 3||KTM||27||0||+12.376s||1m33.089s||0||5|
|12||Brad Binder||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||27||0||+12.405s||1m33.05s||0||4|
|13||Aleix Espargaró||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||27||0||+15.142s||1m33.213s||0||3|
|14||Iker Lecuona||Red Bull KTM Tech 3||KTM||27||0||+19.914s||1m33.18s||0||2|
|15||Johann Zarco||Avintia Racing||Ducati||27||0||+20.152s||1m33.336s||0||1|
|16||Danilo Petrucci||Ducati Team||Ducati||27||0||+22.094s||1m33.266s||0||0|
|17||Alex Marquez||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||27||0||+22.473s||1m33.305s||0||0|
|18||Stefan Bradl||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||27||0||+37.856s||1m34.052s||0||0|
|19||Bradley Smith||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||27||0||+1m18.831s||1m34.689s||0||0|
|Tito Rabat||Avintia Racing||Ducati||22||0||DNF||1m33.487s||0||0|
|Fabio Quartararo||Petronas Yamaha SRT||Yamaha||18||0||DNF||1m33.034s||0||0|