Reigning Champion beats Rins and Viñales on home soil in an all-Spanish rostrum to take the title lead into Le Mans
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) bounces back from his Americas GP crash in phenomenal fashion to take a commanding victory at the Gran Premio Red Bull de España, beating second place Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and third place Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) to take the Championship lead by a single point.
As the lights went green, Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati) launched exceptionally well from 3rd and 4th on the grid to go into Turn 1 ahead of the Petronas Yamaha SRT machines, but Dovi was on the outside and Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) forced his way up the inside to push the Championship leader wide and down to 5th as Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and Viñales slotted into 3rd and 4th.
So, Plan A for Marquez was perfectly executed as he led the MotoGP™ freight train around the first lap, but would he be able to pull away from the pack straight away? The answer was no, Morbidelli and Quartararo weren’t letting the number 93 get away. The top three were eking out a gap to Viñales and Dovizioso, with Rins making a good start from ninth to get himself into the top six.
It was as you were for the opening laps with a tenth here and a tenth there fluctuating between the top three, the other chasers losing touch ever so slightly. But then, on Lap 10, Marquez pulled the pin. A 1:38.4 compared to Morbidelli’s 1:39.1 suddenly saw Marquez with a gap of over a second, and it kept on creeping up until Quartararo was able to get past his teammate into second – Morbidelli seemingly starting to struggle. The flying Frenchman immediately gapped his more experienced teammate but the gap to Marquez was still climbing. Meanwhile, Viñales and Rins were being frustrated by Morbidelli.
However, the cruellest of luck then struck Quartararo. On Lap 14 as he wound his Yamaha up for the back straight, Quartararo slowed. The problem? A gearing issue, replays showing the youngest ever polesitter was stuck in third gear. A terrible shame for the rookie who looked set for a maiden podium as he returned to the garage in tears.
This left Rins to pick up the second place baton after he and Viñales had managed to navigate Morbidelli, with Rins pulling out a gap to over a second to Viñales but by this time, race leader Marquez was over three seconds up the road. A race for the final podium position it was then with Viñales having the two Bologna bullets swarming, Dovi and Petrucci could smell blood and just behind those pair, Morbidelli was having to fend off Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) and Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) – both of whom dispatched it Italian with relative ease.
With three laps to go it became a two-horse race for third, Petrucci losing touch with Dovi and Viñales as Rins held the gap to his compatriot to over a second. There was no way through for Dovizioso though as we headed onto the last lap, with the number 04 putting in his personal best lap in on the penultimate lap. Viñales was under pressure, but would he fold? No, as Marquez wheelied over the line, Rins rocked home second and the Yamaha man took his first podium since winning in Australia.
Dovizioso had to settle for fourth as he loses his Championship lead to Marquez, four manufactures finishing inside the top four in Jerez, with Petrucci picking up his best result of the year in fifth. Rossi would salvage sixth from 13th on the grid, yet another top-class Sunday performance from The Doctor, with Morbidelli eventually able to better Crutchlow for seventh and top Independent Team honours. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) finished just two tenths off his teammate in eighth as a trio of Honda riders closed out the top ten – Team HRC’s Stefan Bradl crossing line in an impressive tenth. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) crossed the line in 11th with Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team) 12th in Jerez. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pol Espargaro and Johann Zarco pick up points in P13 and P14 respectively, with Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) taking his second point of the season in P15.
It was a disappointing day for rookies Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) as they both crashed, with Bagnaia’s teammate Jack Miller going down at Turn 13 in the latter stages while battling Aleix Espargaro.
So Marquez bounces back in style to take his second win of the season. The Championship lead his now his heading to Le Mans, but it’s only a point. Rins’ second consecutive podium leaves him right on the tailpipes of the Honda, with Dovizioso three off and Rossi nine. What will the French GP throw up?
1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team)
2. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 1.654
3. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 2.443
4. Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati) + 2.804
5. Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati) + 4.748
6. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 7.547
7. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) + 8.228
8. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) + 10.052
9. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) + 10.274
10. Stefan Bradl (Team HRC) + 13.402