Jorge Lorenzo claimed his first MotoGP win for Ducati, who look set to drop the Spaniard next season, as world championship leader Marc Marquez crashed in the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello on Sunday to reignite the title race.

Lorenzo (main pix), starting from second on the grid, dominated the race to lead a Ducati 1-2 ahead of Italy’s Andrea Dovizioso with Italian star Valentino Rossi, who had started from pole position, completing the podium on a Yamaha.

Spaniard Marquez — targeting a fourth straight win this season — had moved up to third place on the opening lap from sixth.

But the 25-year-old came unstuck as he tried to put pressure on Lorenzo, sliding into the gravel on the fifth lap before struggling to restart his Honda.

The four-time world champion remounted his bike and finished in 16th position, remaining top of the championship standings after six races but with his lead cut.

Former seven-time MotoGP champion Rossi, 39, moves up to second overall, 23 points behind Marquez with Spanish Yamaha rider Maverick Vinales, who finished eighth, in third position a further five points behind.

After Marquez’s crash, Lorenzo led Rossi and Dovizioso, with the latter moving ahead of Rossi on lap seven of the 23-lap race.

Lorenzo extended his lead to 1.5sec by the 13th lap with the three-time MotoGP champion in control for the rest of the race to claim his first win since Valencia 2016.

“Today no one could catch me, I was in control and to win here with Ducati is like a dream,” said Lorenzo, who moved up to tenth in the overall standings.

Lorenzo claimed his 45th top class victory by a margin of 6.3sec on Dovizioso, last year’s winner at Mugello, who held on by 0.259sec for second despite pressure from Rossi.

– Bittersweet victory –

It was a bittersweet victory for Lorenzo who had come under fire from Ducati for his lack of results compared to his massive salary, reported to be over 12 million euros ($14m) per season.

“A lot of people thought that my method was not good, that I was looking for excuses,” said Lorenzo, who failed to finish in Qatar and Spain.

“The team finally gave me a new fuel tank, and I was able to keep a more constant pace since Friday,” said the 31-year-old whose adventure with Ducati will end in November when he will be replaced by Italian Danilo Petrucci.

“I’m happy to have won one of the best races of my career and sad, because if I had this bike before, my performance would have been much better,” added Lorenzo.

The evergreen Rossi became the first rider to break the 5,000-point mark in the elite category.

“It was one of the most difficult races of the year,” Rossi said. “And yesterday’s pole position was crucial: there was a moment in the race when I suffered a lot.” 

“When (Andrea) Iannone attacked me (for third place) I thought about all the efforts I had made during the week and I told myself that I would not be fooled. I’m very happy now, I didn’t think I would be second in the championship standings after Mugello.”

Five riders including Spaniard Dani Pedrosa crashed in the first two laps, with Marquez hitting the gravel on Turn 10 before restarting.

“I’m still leading and I’m going to give my best in Barcelona in two weeks,” warned Marquez.

Earlier Portuguese KTM rider Miguel Oliveira snatched his first win in the Moto2 category this season, while Spaniard Jorge Martin rode his Honda to a thrilling victory in the Moto3 class. – Agence France-Presse

- Advertisement -