Racing returned to Spain for the MotoGP circus and Frenchman Fabio Quartararo, riding for Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team (SRT) reclaimed his position at the top of the world championship table. However, the lead is tenuous as Joan Mir of Team Suzuki Ecstar is close behind with 100 points to Quartararo’s 108 and Maverick Vinales of Monster Energy Yamaha is in third with 90 points.
Racing at the Monster Energy Grand Prix of Catalunya in Barcelona started with Quartararo’s team mate, Franco Morbidelli, in pole position, with Quartararo and Valentino Rossi, on his 350th premier class start, making up the front row in second and third, respectively. Morbidelli, in his first ever MotoGP pole position, started strongly, with Jack Miller of Pramac Racing and Rossi getting good starts and slotting in close behind.
Drama ensued on the very first lap as Johann Zarco of Esponsorama Racing low sided as he tried to avoid Danilo Petrucci of Ducati team, who lost control of his control of his Ducati, and caused a chain reaction that unfortunately collected Andrea Dovizioso of Team Ducati as well.
However, the Suzukis of Mir and Alex Rins, were nipping at the heels of the lead trio, along with Pol Espargaro of KTM Red Bull Factory Racing. Near the halfway mark, the hard/hard front and rear tyre recommendations by Michelin were beginning to shows signs of fade, especially front, with Morbidelli having a near high side.
At this point, with Quartararo in the lead and Rossi in second, both Mir and Rins took the opportunity to make a move on Morbidelli, relegating him to fifth. On lap 16, Rossi, who joins Morbidelli next year in SRT, slid out into the gravel, ending his hopes of a 200th MotoGP win in his 350th grand prix start.
With Quartararo having a commanding lead, took the win ahead of Mir, in second 0.928 seconds behind and Rins, coming in third 1.898 seconds behind. In fourth place was Morbidelli, followed by Miller and Francesco Bagnaia, both of Pramac Racing.
The race at Catalunya sees two Suzukis on the podium and the last time that happened was 13 years ago in San Marino. At the end of the ninth round in MotoGP, the championship standings are Quartararo on top, followed by Mir and Vinales, with Morbidelli fourth in the championship with 77 points and Miller sixth with 75 points.
Racing resumes on the 11th of October at the Shark Helmets French Grand Prix in Le Mans. The grid is also awaiting the possible return of 2019 world champion Marc Marquez of Repsol Honda Racing, sidelined by injury and his presence sorely missed by Honda Racing Corporation who have provided less that a challenge in this year’s MotoGP.
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