Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales has finally tasted Virtual MotoGP™ glory after capitalising on late crashes by Pramac Racing’s Francesco Bagnaia and Repsol Honda’s Alex Marquez in Sunday’s Red Bull Virtual Grand Prix of Spain. The Spaniard was beaten by both Marquez and Bagnaia at Mugello and then by Bagnaia in an epic last-lap scrap at the Red Bull Ring but he beat both of them at Jerez to clinch victory.
As we’ve become accustomed to now, the opening corner was nothing short of chaos with six riders going down including poleman Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and eventual race winner Viñales. At the front, Bagnaia and Marquez were looking to escape before Marquez crashed out after contact with the Italian in the final sector.
Red Bull KTM Tech 3’s Iker Lecuona found himself in second after he managed to stay clear of the carnage in front of him but his chances of finishing on the podium evaporated on lap three when he crashed at the penultimate corner. In an incident that also saw Quartararo caught up in, suddenly Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was promoted to second and had a debut Virtual rostrum finish in his sights.
The World Champion was put under all sorts of pressure by both Viñales and brother Alex after the pair had refound their form following earlier crashes. The pair swooped through on the number 93 after a mistake at Turn 2. The trio were split by nothing on lap five but the gaps would quickly grow as Alex Marquez edged clear of Viñales for second, as Viñales did the same to Marc Marquez.
Behind, Quartararo and Lecuona came together again as the Frenchman simply couldn’t stop crashing; the same issue that cost him in the opening two Virtual MotoGP™ races. At half race distance, Viñales ran wide allowing Marc Marquez back through for third but he didn’t hold the final podium place for long, crashing out just moments later.
Then with just three laps remaining, Alex Marquez crashed out of second at Turn 2, only for the leader Bagnaia to crash as well at the penultimate corner allowing Viñales to go from third to first in the space of a lap. The Spaniard coped with the pressure in the closing stages and took the chequered flag for a first virtual victory. Alex Marquez finished second, with Bagnaia third meaning the same three riders were on the podium again but in a different order for a third time running.
Marc Marquez ended up fourth, despite slowing up on the final two laps to have a fight and some fun with Ducati Team’s Danilo Petrucci, who eventually crashed out during the self-made scrap. Ecstar Suzuki Team’s Alex Rins pounced on Petrucci’s error to take the final top five spot ahead of the Italian.
Red Bull KTM Tech 3’s Miguel Oliveira came across the line ahead of Quartararo, who took the fastest lap honour. The final finishers were Lecuona in ninth, Aprilia’s test rider Lorenzo Savadori in tenth on his virtual debut and Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) in eleventh.