Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was the victor in a GP Octo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini stunner as the nine-time World Champion went head-to-head with Petronas Yamaha SRT’s Fabio Quartararo, with the battle for the win going down to the last lap. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) completed the podium, 1.6 back from Marquez.
Viñales was on pole and the Spaniard made it count, keeping the lead heading into Turn 1 as third place Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) grabbed P2, with Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) losing positions at the start. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) found himself in P3 with the sluggish starting Marquez giving himself work to do. But that’s 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.
And sure enough, the trio started to stretch away. The gap on Lap 2 was already up to 0.7 over Morbidelli 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 Petronas grey and blue dived underneath Monster Energy black and blue as a rookie led at Misano. Marquez wasn’t going to waste any time, Lap 3 saw the 93 set the fastest lap of the race as Quartararo started to pull away.
Seeing this, Marquez dived under Viñales at Turn 10 on Lap 4 and locked his radar onto a rapid Yamaha at the front, with the third-place Yamaha of Viñales struggling to hold the pace. Further back, Espargaro was frustrating Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and second in the Championship Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) for P5.
Back up front, Quartararo had a 0.8 lead as Viñales slipped to 1.5 seconds back on Lap 6. Quartararo’s lead wouldn’t stay above half a second for long though, the Repsol Honda reeled the Petronas Yamaha in as the reigning World Champion and MotoGP rookie faced off. Unexpectedly, Viñales was now out of range. The gap to Marquez and Quartararo was nearly three seconds – what was going on for one of the weekend’s leading contenders?
In the battle for sixth, Rins was given a long lap penalty shortly after finally dispatching Espargaro’s KTM. But then, it didn’t matter for the Silverstone winner. The Suzuki man was down at Turn 4, while further up the road, Rossi was hitched onto the back of compatriot Morbidelli.
At the front, Quartararo was faultless. There were no signs of the 20-year-old buckling under the pressure from a seven-time Champion as the gap between the two remained at 0.2.
The laps ticked by and still there was no change. 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 Quartararo and Marquez, with Viñales at this point now closing the gap ever so slightly to the leaders. Surely it was too late for the Spaniard? Into the final 10 laps, still nothing. No hint of an overtake from Marquez, no signs of a mistake from Quartararo. Lap after lap, the consistency was frightening as Viñales got the gap down to two seconds. There was a sense of inevitability in the air as we headed onto the final five laps, but we’d have to wait until the last lap before Marquez pounced.
Firing it onto the start/finish straight, Marquez had the run on Quartararo and led into Turn 1. Quartararo got a good run out of Turn 2 and Turn 3 though as the rookies bit straight back. Into Turn 4 they went, Quartararo was back at the summit but the back straight and Turn 8 provided a golden passing opportunity. Marquez, late on the brakes, smoke coming off his boot, somehow got it stopped into the left-hander – changing of the guard once more.
Now it was Marquez’ to lose. No way through for Quartararo at Turn 10, but the Yamaha got a good run down through Turn 11 and 12. The Frenchman was right behind Marquez at the tight left of Turn 14 approached. Marquez went defensive and was slow mid-corner. Quartararo tried to cut back but there was no way through, the Yamaha almost touching the rear wheel of Marquez. Subsequently, Quartararo had to sit up, which meant it was game over. Marquez returned to winning ways after two consecutive P2s to win on enemy territory, overtaking Mike Hailwood’s Grand Prix win record in the process.
Quartararo was understandably disappointed after such a titanic performance, but the rookie’s time will come. Viñales didn’t quite have enough on Sunday afternoon for Marquez or Quartararo, 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 close mate Morbidelli and a third consecutive P4 shows signs the nine-time World Champion isn’t far away from returning to the rostrum. For Morbidelli, a strong and consistent weekend ends with a fourth P5 of the year for the Italian, who took the chequered flag just a tenth off Rossi. All four Yamahas inside the top five as Misano is promising for the Iwata factory.
Dovizioso could do no more than sixth at the venue he won at last season, he now sits 93 points adrift of Marquez as Ducati suffer on home soil. On the other hand, Espargaro’s P7 was just reward for KTM’s continued hard work as the Austrian factory enjoy a very successful weekend at the San Marino GP. 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), Michele Pirro (Ducati Team) and Pramac Racing’s Francesco Bagnaia crashed out of the race – riders ok.
Marquez vs Quartararo: something we should start getting used to as Misano is just the first installment of what could become one of the all-time great rivalries. For now, Marquez has the bragging rights and the number 93 heads to his home Grand Prix at MotorLand Aragon with 93 points over his rivals. Can anyone beat Marquez on Spanish soil next week? Quartararo will be fired up to do just that.
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. The Spaniard beat Fabio Di Giannantonio (+Ego Speed Up) on the final lap to head third-place Championship leader Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS).
Di Giannantonio held position off the line at the Italian grabbed the holeshot from pole position, with Marquez sluggish as the lights went out as the Spaniard dropped to P6. Fernandez slotted into second behind ‘Diggia’ on the opening lap with Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) getting a lightning start from P7 to climb to P3.
Home hero Di Giannantonio had Fernandez right on his tailpipes and pushing in the early stages, the Italian was out the seat coming out of Turn 2 on Lap 2 – a lucky close call for the race leader but despite this, 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 Austrian just staying on board his Kalex. Marquez was then chasing Di Giannantonio and Fernandez, with the gap over half a second.
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 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 but Fernandez would get him back to lead. Down into Turn 8 though, ‘Diggia’ was back underneath Fernandez and at the same time, Marquez pounced on his title rival. Fernandez was down to P3, with Di Giannantonio 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 Fernandez 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 stagnant between the top two, with Marquez just losing touch to sit around a second off the lead. With seven laps left, Fernandez was closer. The Kalex chassis seemingly having an advantage in the latter half of the lap, with Di Giannantonio holding the edge in the first half. Fernandez then had a huge front-end scare at Turn 10, with ‘Diggia’ then being handed a track limits warning.
Five to go, four to go, three to go. Di Giannantonio was holding firm with Fernandez swarming behind. At this stage, Marquez was 1.5 behind as it became Speed Up vs Kalex, Di Giannantonio vs Fernandez. 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. Di Giannantonio got the switchback and lead was still the Italian’s.
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 wide at Turn 11 and exceeded track limits, seemingly no advantage was gained though as ‘Diggia’ held it. Then, though, the number 40 went for it. Contact between the two, Fernandez had the inside line into Turn 14. Aggressive, but fair. Fernandez sat Di Giannantonio up and the race lead was the Spaniard’s, with ‘Diggia’ unable to reply. Fernandez rounded the final corner to claim 25 points, closing third place Marquez down in the title race in the process – 26 points now the gap.
Di Giannantonio rode phenomenally all race, but a dream home GP victory went begging by just 0.186. Nevertheless, this was the rookie’s best result of the season, and his second rostrum of an impressive 2019. Marquez will take a podium away from Misano as he now heads to his home GP at MotorLand Aragon still in control of the Moto2 title race. Lüthi couldn’t 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 very solid ride at his team’s home race, the British rider finishing just ahead of Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Brad Binder, the South African coming from P16 on the grid, with +Ego Speed Up’s Jorge Navarro crossing the line eighth after starting from 15th.
Vierge 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. Said duo were able to capitalize on Lorenzo Baldassarri’s (FlexBox HP 40) late long lap penalty for exceeding track limits, the Italian closing 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.
The result stands for now, but both Di Giannantonio and Fernandez have been called to a hearing after the last lap. In the meantime, Fernandez cements himself as a title threat to Marquez with win number three of his season, the second on the bounce. 26 points is still healthy for Marquez heading to Aragon, but there’s no time to relax. Moto2 go racing again next weekend in Spain, what do we have in store before jetting off to Asia?
Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) secured an emotional victory for Paolo Simoncelli at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli as the Japanese rider produced a faultless race at the GP Octo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini. John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) picked up a sensational second with home rider Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) claimed P3, with yet more twists in the Championship occurring.
Polesitter Suzuki got the perfect getaway as the Japanese rider grabbed the holeshot, with Arbolino getting the better of Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) off the front row. The riders settled on the opening couple of laps as Suzuki and Arbolino exchanged the race lead baton. However, there was to be plenty of drama to come as a Championship twist unfolded.
Running third on Lap 4, Canet suddenly slowed. The man sitting second in the Championship had an issue with his KTM machine heading down into Turn 8, with Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) and Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) – two home riders – 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 with a point may be possible, the bike said no Lap 8 – disaster for Canet, potential delight for Championship leader Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing). After a chaotic lap, Dalla Porta found himself 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 and Dalla Porta tried to close the leaders down. And they did, on Lap 8 there was now a lead group of five. A fierce battle then played out between the leaders as it became more like WWE for WWR’s Migno and Masia, the duo scrapping with each other on a number of occasions, with Migno embroiled in a great fight with Dalla Porta. The five leaders were 1.5 clear of the chasing pack but then, Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) was able to get into P6 and straight away, the Japanese rookie was 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 got a wriggle on as the Scotsman started to make ground on the front runners having been P18 on Lap 1. With six to go, the top seven were all together. A Moto3 royal rumble was setup at Misano, with vital Championship points there to be taken for Dalla Porta, with Canet having to retire. But he wouldn’t have it easy. Suzuki, Arbolino, Migno, Masia, Ogura and McPhee weren’t giving an inch and with track limit warnings coming Dalla Porta’s way, the Italian had to be wary.
Suzuki surrendered the lead to Masia with six to go but with three laps remaining, in just a matter of corners, the Spaniard slipped to seventh. Suzuki was now back in the driver’s seat and heading onto the last lap, Suzuki had it from Arbolino. Dalla Porta and Masia dueled at Turn 2 and it ultimately cost them a podium place as they slipped to over half a second back. Then, 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 latter made a brave move stick under the inside of Arbolino into Turn 12 but the lead was still Suzuki’s. Could McPhee snatch victory? No, Suzuki produced a stunning and faultless final lap to claim his first Moto3 win, at his team’s home race, at the circuit named after Marco Simoncelli – emotional, sensational, phenomenal.
McPhee’s performance was one to remember, the British rider coming from P14 on the grid to claim his third podium of the season. Arbolino’s outside title chances were improved with his fourth rostrum of the season. Masia claimed P4 as Dalla Porta was penalized three seconds for exceeding track limits – damaging for the Championship as he slipped to P8 on the race card. This lifted home rider Dennis Foggia (SKY Racing Team VR46) up to P5, with Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) crossing the line sixth having started in a lowly P16. Because of his teammate’s penalty, Silverstone winner Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) takes a P7 away from Misano, with Filip Salac (Redox PrüstelGP) and Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) rounded out the top 10.
Only 16 riders finished in a race of attrition at Misano, but only one thing matters for Suzuki – a maiden win, and doing it for the late Marco Simoncelli. Wonderful scenes at Misano and we get to do it all again next weekend at MotorLand Aragon. What does the Championship have in store at Round 14 – the last European round before we head for Asia.