Petronas Yamaha rider Fabio Quartararo took his maiden MotoGP win in the 2020 season opener at Jerez, as Marc Marquez’s charge ended in a big highside crash.
Pre-race favourite Marquez had taken the lead early on, but then found himself having to recover from 18th place after an off-track excursion.
Yet he made it back to podium contention, only to crash out in spectacular fashion just as he was about to pounce on Maverick Vinales for second place.
Quartararo had lined up on pole for the seventh time in his premier-class career, but a slow start relegated him to third behind Vinales and Marquez.
He slipped behind Jack Miller later into the lap, and allowed the other Pramac Ducati of Francecso Bagnaia through on lap two, although he then got the spot back shortly thereafter.
Out front, Vinales had assumed the lead and began to soak up pressure from Marquez, successfully rebuffing an attack at the Sito Pons right-hander on the third lap – only to yield to a Marquez attack at the next corner.
He stayed with Marquez over the rest of the lap, upon which Marquez began to push to attempt a breakaway.
Yet this would prove his initial undoing, as Marquez lost the front coming through the ultra-fast Turn 4 left-hander – and though stayed on the bike against all odds, he had gone into the gravel, and only rejoined the circuit in last place.
Shortly afterwards, Quartararo dived down the inside of Miller for what was now second, and set off after the race leader.
Vinales was at one point nearly a second clear, yet he and Yamaha factory team-mate Valentino Rossi were alone in selecting the soft front – as opposed to the hard front – for the race, and soon he began to slow up the pace.
That meant Quartararo was right on his tail by the ninth lap, when Vinales made a hash of entering the final corner and ran an extremely wide line, waving both Quartararo and Miller through.
The poleman began to check out from there on, entering the final third of the race with a four-second lead over Miller, and with the fight for victory looking settled Marquez’s charge became the main intrigue.
Having scythed his way through the backmarkers and the middle of the pack, Marquez arrived at the back of Bagnaia and Petronas Yamaha rider Franco Morbidelli with nine laps left, passing both with ease to move up to sixth.
Two laps later, he picked off the KTM of Pol Espargaro and slid down the inside of Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso at the final corner – with Vinales doing the same to Miller just a few metres up the road.
Marquez repeated the same move on Miller a lap later, yet Vinales proved a sterner challenge – and as the Honda man chased after his rival, he lost the rear going through the Turn 3 left-hander, being launched off his RC123V and suffering a painful landing.
The champion was up on his feet subsequently, but was clearly hurt and was eventually stretchered into an ambulance in a neck brace.
Marquez’s exit left Vinales free to coast to second place, 4.6s behind his 2021 Yamaha works team-mate Quartararo.
Dovizioso passed fellow Ducati rider Miller late on for third, and Morbidelli looked to follow suit, only to nearly lose control of his bike when he made contact with Miller at Turn 6.
He had dropped behind Espargaro was a result, but took fifth place from the KTM man at the final corner of the race.
Bagnaia took seventh, narrowly hanging on to the spot over Tech3 KTM rider Miguel Oliveira, as Dovizioso’s works team-mate Danilo Petrucci and LCR Honda’s sole entrant Takaaki Nakagami made up the top 10.
Marquez’s brother Alex Marquez was 12th on his premier-class debut for Honda, with KTM’s rookie Brad Binder 13th – albeit having run in the top 10 early on before dropping to the back in an unseen incident.
Joining Marquez among the retirements were Tech3 rookie Iker Lecuona, Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro, Suzuki’s Joan Mir and Rossi, whose already-difficult race ended as he pulled up on lap 18.
|Pos||Name||Team||Bike||Laps||Laps Led||Total Time||Fastest Lap||Pitstops||Pts|
|1||Fabio Quartararo||Petronas Yamaha SRT||Yamaha||25||17||41m23.796s||1m38.549s||0||25|
|2||Maverick Viñales||Yamaha Factory Racing||Yamaha||25||6||+4.603s||1m38.445s||0||20|
|3||Andrea Dovizioso||Ducati Team||Ducati||25||0||+5.946s||1m38.767s||0||15|
|4||Jack Miller||Pramac Racing||Ducati||25||0||+6.668s||1m38.677s||0||13|
|5||Franco Morbidelli||Petronas Yamaha SRT||Yamaha||25||0||+6.844s||1m38.843s||0||11|
|6||Pol Espargaró||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||25||0||+6.938s||1m38.753s||0||10|
|7||Francesco Bagnaia||Pramac Racing||Ducati||25||0||+13.027s||1m38.799s||0||9|
|8||Miguel Oliveira||Red Bull KTM Tech 3||KTM||25||0||+13.441s||1m38.949s||0||8|
|9||Danilo Petrucci||Ducati Team||Ducati||25||0||+19.651s||1m39.399s||0||7|
|10||Takaaki Nakagami||LCR Honda||Honda||25||0||+21.553s||1m39.541s||0||6|
|11||Johann Zarco||Avintia Racing||Ducati||25||0||+25.1s||1m39.556s||0||5|
|12||Alex Marquez||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||25||0||+27.35s||1m39.603s||0||4|
|13||Brad Binder||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||25||0||+29.64s||1m38.909s||0||3|
|14||Tito Rabat||Avintia Racing||Ducati||25||0||+32.898s||1m39.965s||0||2|
|15||Bradley Smith||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||25||0||+39.682s||1m39.982s||0||1|
|Marc Marquez||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||22||2||DNF||1m38.372s||0||0|
|Iker Lecuona||Red Bull KTM Tech 3||KTM||20||0||DNF||1m39.139s||0||0|
|Valentino Rossi||Yamaha Factory Racing||Yamaha||19||0||DNF||1m39.163s||0||0|
|Aleix Espargaró||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||3||0||DNF||1m39.793s||0||0|
|Joan Mir||Team Suzuki MotoGP||Suzuki||2||0||DNF||0s||0||0|