MotoGP™ is back. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) claimed his first MotoGP™ victory – and France's first since 1999 – in a truly stunning and dramatic Gran Premio Red Bull de España. The Frenchman capitalised on a Lap 5 mistake from race leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) as we witnessed a monumental comeback from the number 93, before the reigning World Champion then suffered a huge crash at Turn 4 with four laps remaining. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) completed the podium.
There are almost no words for what the Spanish GP has just thrown up. Marquez produced one of his mindboggling saves which saw him come back on circuit in P16 after leading, with Marquez then producing an all-time great ride that saw him come back to P3. However, with four laps to go, the Honda star suffered a huge crash at Turn 4 which saw Marquez heading off to the medical centre, as the battle for the remaining podium positions raged.
Viñales got a storming launch from the middle of the front row and grabbed the holeshot into Turn 1, with Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) getting his Ducati off the line like a rocket to initially go P2. The Australian was wide though which let Marquez to come through into second after an average getaway, with polesitter Quartararo slotting into P3 at Turn 2 to get the better of Miller.
However, the Desmosedici grunt saw Miller get up the inside of Quartararo down into the Dani Pedrosa corner, as Viñales got out the seat around Turn 8 – an early scare for the number 12. Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) was then past Quartararo on Lap 2 but Quartararo was back through at the final corner on that lap as Marquez and Viñales went toe-to-toe at Turn 4, before Marquez managed to make the move stick at Dani Pedrosa corner.
However, Lap 5 was then a game-changer. Marquez was leading the way but going through Turn 4, we witnessed something we’ve seen so many times before – a miraculous save. Somehow, somehow the number 93 picked his HRC machine up from an almost certain crash and managed to keep it upright through the gravel and come back on the track in 16th. A huge moment, but it was far from race over for Marc Marquez. Far, far from it.
At the front, Viñales wasn’t looking comfortable. Only himself and teammate Valentino Rossi chose the soft front Michelin option – everyone else was on the hard – and it started to look like it was a gamble that wasn’t going to pay off. After leading for a couple of laps, Quartararo had got the better of Miller and was soon right on the tailpipes of Viñales. A mistake at Dani Pedrosa corner was then followed by another one heading into Jorge Lorenzo corner on Lap 9 after the pace had slowed into the 1:39s. Viñales went wide, Quartararo and Miller were through, but attentions we starting to turn to Marc Marquez.
With the pace at the front slow, the World Champion was anything but. In just five laps Marquez had managed to get himself from P16 to P10 and was lapping around a second quicker than most of the leading group, with Quartararo stretching away from Miller at the front. Lap 12 saw Marquez set a 1:38.3 – the fastest lap of the race – that was a good 0.4 faster than Quartararo, and even more than the riders in the podium hunt.
Lap 13 passed by and doing the passing was Marquez, he’d got the better of Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3) and a struggling Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) to move up into P8. At this point, Marquez had a podium finish well within his grasp – quite remarkable. At the Lap 15 stage, Quartararo’s lead snuck past the two-second mark for the first time, but the shark music was playing as the cameras started to show an orange missile quickly making its way towards the back of the fight for the podium places.
With 10 laps to go, Marquez was a second quicker than third place Viñales. Marquez getting back into a podium position was now a formality rather than a possibility. With eight laps to go, Marquez was just two seconds away from the podium as he hunted and passed Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and Bagnaia. Dovizioso was then passed, Marquez a full second quicker than the Italian and now, amazingly, Marquez had Miller and Viñales right in front of him – up the road, Quartararo was over five seconds clear.
So, Marquez vs Miller. Six laps to go, Turn 13 was Marquez’ chosen passing place on Miller but down the home straight, the Australian bit straight back at Turn 1. A man on a mission, Marquez was straight back up the inside at Turn 2 and made the move stick. Now, Viñales was next on the list – the rider right behind Marquez when the eight-time Champion ran off track at Turn 4.
Coming across the line with four laps remaining, Marquez was plotting his move into P2. However, there was about to be another twist – and a vast one at that. Coming out of Turn 3, Marquez was launched off his RC213V in a vicious way. Tumbling heavily through the gravel, Marquez was taken to the medical centre – we’ll have updates on his condition as we get them.
At the front, Quartararo was untroubled in the latter half and he took an incredible maiden MotoGP™ victory. Behind, Viñales was able to grind out a P2 despite struggling with his front tyre from “lap seven or eight”. The battle for the final podium spot went down to the final lap. With two to go, Dovizioso made his move on Miller at Turn 6 to hold P3, with Morbidelli then almost crashing after colliding with Miller on the inside of the corner. This allowed Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) through in P5 – the Spaniard in the fight all race – but Morbidelli would eventually get the better of Espargaro at the last corner, on the last lap. Viñales took P2 from Dovizioso, with Miller leading Morbidelli and Espargaro over the line with P2-P6 covered by 2.3 seconds.
Bagnaia couldn’t keep up the pace in the latter stages as the Italian slipped out of contention and finished P7, with Oliveira placing P8 – his equal best result in the premier class. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) crossed the line ninth, with Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) closing out the top 10.
There were only 15 finishers in a brutal MotoGP™ race in Jerez. Johann Zarco (Reale Avintia Racing), Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) – who recovered from an unseen incident in the opening stages to sometimes sit as the fastest man on track – Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) and Aprilia Racing Team Gresini’s Bradley Smith completing the points. Rossi suffered some sort of issue and was out of the race with seven to go, with Iker Lecuona (Red Bull KTM Tech3), Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) also not finishing.
That’s going to take some time to digest. There aren’t enough superlatives to describe what we just witnessed in the MotoGP™ class as 2020 kicks off in ridiculous fashion. The best thing? We get to do it all over again in just five days’ time at the Gran Premio Red Bull de Andalucia.
1. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT)
2. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 4.603
3. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) + 5.946
4. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) + 6.668
5. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) + 6.844
6. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) + 6.938
7. Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) + 13.027
8. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) + 13.441
9. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) + 19.651
10. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) + 21.553
Click here for the full results!