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Whoever is writing the 2020 MotoGP™ script, bravo, because the Gran Premio TISSOT dell'Emilia Romagna e della Riviera di Rimini was another absolute stunner. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) made it six different winners in seven races in a race that was jam-packed full of drama from the outset. From P11 on the grid, Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) stands on the podium again at Misano and Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) completed the rostrum after Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) was handed a three-second penalty for exceeding track limits, demoting the Frenchman to P4.
Round 8: MotoGP™ Tissot Emilia Romagna Grand Prix
As expected, Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) got a great launch from P2 to grab the holeshot with polesitter Viñales slotting into second, Quartararo held onto P3 with Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) making up a place to get past Pol Espargaro. Viñales though didn’t take long to take the lead, the Spaniard was up the inside at Turn 4 as Pecco had a very close look at getting past Quartararo up the inside at Turn 8 – no way through for now. Drama unfolded behind for San Marino GP winner Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT), Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) tucked the front and collected Morbidelli, the latter somehow stayed on and continued but the Italian was last.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Brad Binder had made good progress on the opening lap and the South African was up to P5 ahead of teammate Espargaro. Viñales had a 0.9 second lead over the line as the riders clocked onto Lap 2 but Viñales’ teammate Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) was soon out of his 250th Grand Prix with Yamaha. The Doctor was down at Turn 4 and home podium dreams were over, Rossi remounted but had a big ask on his hands to score points.
In the meantime, Bagnaia had got past teammate Miller for P2 and Binder was then 3rd at Turn 10 as he left Quartararo in his wake. The rookie was on a charge but then Binder was down at Turn 14, with Bagnaia setting the fastest lap of the race as the Italian locked his radar firmly onto the back of Viñales’ YZR-M1. Bagnaia closed Viñales down again on the following lap as Pol Espargaro set the fastest lap of the race in P3, with Binder crashing again at Turn 1 to end his race.
"The tough times are over!" - MotoGP™ podium first words
Bagnaia was right on Viñales on Lap 5 and the duo were pulling away from Pol Esparagro and Quartararo. Bagnaia set another fastest lap of the race – a 1:32.3 – and then Viñales was slightly wide at Turn 4, Bagnaia swept through to the lead and it was #GoFree time. This was a vital stage in the race and Pecco was immediately half a second clear of Viñales, but it stayed pretty constant at 0.6 seconds for a number of laps as Pol Esparagro and Quartararo lost touch on the top two.
Further back, Mir had now managed to get to the front of the battle for the lower ends of the top 10 to have some clean air in front of hm – the gap to Quartararo was 3.5 seconds on Lap 7. A few more laps went by and the gap between the leading two wasn’t going above 0.6 seconds, with Viñales slightly quicker than Bagnaia. But then the Pramac Racing started to up the ante, Bagnaia’s lead was up to the magic one-second mark on Lap 11. A couple of laps later and the lead was up to 1.4 seconds, with Quartararo setting his fastest lap of the race on Lap 11 – with Mir going even quicker behind. Bagnaia had got the gap up to over a second but Viñales wasn’t letting the sophomore pull away, the lead was tinkering between 1.1 and 1.4 seconds as Quartararo reeled in Espargaro. Mir, with eight laps to go, was now under two seconds away from the podium fight.
Huge drama then unfolded with seven laps to go. The cameras were focused on the Pol Espargaro-Quartararo battle that was intensifying, but suddenly the scrapes of a bike hitting the deck were heard. Someone had crashed, and it was race leader Bagnaia. Turn 6 – where he crashed in FP3 – was the location for heartbreak as a dream maiden MotoGP™ win slipped away from the Italian’s grasp on home soil.
This left Viñales was a marvellous four second lead. Now, this was Viñales’ race to lose as the attention turned to who would join him on the podium – barring a mistake from the polesitter of course. Quartararo was showing a wheel to Espargaro but the latter was defending brilliantly on his KTM. But cue the jaws music – a GSX-RR was swiftly approaching the KTM and Yamaha. Mir was 0.6 faster than the duo ahead of him with six laps to go and sure enough, it became a three-rider dog fight for the remaining two spots on the podium. And also with six laps to go, Quartararo was handed a track limits warning – something that would prove to be costly for El Diablo in a few minutes time.
Heartbreak for Bagnaia as he throws away debut MotoGP™ win
With three laps to go, Mir struck. Turn 2 was Mir’s chosen mugging spot and the Spaniard was underneath and past Quartararo, and it wasn’t long before Mir was up to P2. On the next lap at Turn 1, Mir was through. Quartararo then pounced at Turn 3 as Espargaro went from P2 to P4 in a matter of corners, and it seemed that was that for the podium fight with Espargaro struggling with his tyres.
Then, yet more drama. The news came through that Quartararo was handed a long-lap penalty for repeatedly exceeding track limits, his only time to do it was on the last lap. Quartararo was just over a second clear of Espargaro and four seconds ahead of fifth place Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3) – so it looked like he was going to lose P3. However, Quartararo didn’t take the long lap penalty and that meant he would be handed a three-second penalty at the end of the race.
Yamaha rival Viñales didn’t have any such troubles though. Top Gun rounded the last corner to take his first victory since the 2019 Malaysian GP in fine style, with Mir crossing the line a magnificent second to take his third rostrum in four races. Quartararo took the chequered flag in third but was demoted to P4 with his penalty, handing Pol Espargaro his second podium of the season – a fine ride by all on the podium. With Quartararo finishing fourth and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) taking P8, Viñales is level on points with Quartararo and one-point behind Dovi, with Mir now just four points from the title leader – madness.
Rossi tucks the front and crashes out of his home GP
Oliveira was stunning in the second half of the race to finish P5, the Portuguese rider had the race leader’s pace but starting P15 ultimately cost the Styrian GP winner of a podium. The leading Honda across the line was Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) in P6, 11 seconds from the win. The Japanese rider also showing strong late-race pace to get the better of Repsol Honda Team’s Alex Marquez and Dovizioso. 7th went the way of reigning Moto2™ World Champion Marquez who produced his best MotoGP™ ride to date, finishing seven tenths away from Nakagami. A phenomenal effort from the rookie, who beats Dovizioso by over a second at Misano as the Italian once again struggled. Dovi still holds the Championship lead, testament to how close and unpredictable the 2020 title race is.
Despite sitting last on the opening lap, unwell Morbidelli recovered to salvage a brilliant P9 – those points could prove vital in the coming weeks. Fellow Italian Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) completed the top 10, with Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing), Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Bradley Smith (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) the only other finishers in 11th, 12th and 13th respectively.
Iker Lecuona (Red Bull KTM Tech3) crashed out of P6 with two and bit laps to go after stringing together a fantastic race, gutting for the Spaniard who was mightily impressive on Sunday. Rossi pulled in with 12 laps to go after his crash, with Miller encountering engine issues early on that he later revealed was caused by one of Quartararo's visor tear-offs blocking the air filter, forcing him to retire. Tito Rabat (Esponsorama Racing) crashed at Turn 1 on Lap 12 – rider ok.
Four riders, four points. That’s how it stands at the top of the MotoGP™ World Championship after the Misano double-header, Dovizioso, Quartararo, Viñales and Mir the quartet who lead the way. But this is 2020, and this is MotoGP™ - it could all change in the blink of an eye and with Barcelona coming up in less than a week’s time, we don’t have to wait long to witness more unrivalled premier class action.
1. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP)
2. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) +2.425
3. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) +4.528
4. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) +6.419
5. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3)+7.368
6. Taka Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) +11.139
7. Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) +11.929
8. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) +13.113
9. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) +15.880
10. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) +17.682
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