The younger Marquez repeated his feat from Mugello, while Valentino ‘The Doctor’ Rossi scored his first virtual podium
Race 4 of the Virtual MotoGP was held at the virtual rendition of the Misano World Circuit, and attendance for this race was top class. Regulars, such as Marc and Alex Marquez, Francesco Bagnaia, Maverick Vinales and Fabio Quartararo were joined by Takaaki Nakagami, Lorenzo Savadori, Tito Rabat, Michele Pirro and Joan Mir. Finally, considering it’s his home circuit, Valentino Rossi just HAD to be there!
Officially known as the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli (to commemorate local motorcycle racer Marco Simoncelli, who died at the Sepang circuit, Indonesia in 2011), the Misano track is located next to the town of Misano Adriatico. The track is 4.064 kilometres long and has 16 turns.
As has been the case so far for the virtual MotoGP races, the qualifying consisted of a 5-minute session of the riders zipping across the track, trying to set the best time, and consequently, the best place on the starting grid for the eight-lap race.
Petronas Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo set the fastest time for the third time so far this season, with Repsol Honda’s Alex Marquez less than a second behind him. The results of the qualifying were as under:
The nine-lap race started with Fabio Quartararo getting a good launch out from pole position. On the first corner itself, Monster Energy Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales and Pramac Ducati’s Francesco Baganaia went down in the first corner. Reale Avintia Racing’s Tito Rabat and LCR Honda Idemitsu’s Takaaki Nakagami also went down, though separately, in the first few corners as well. Meanwhile Quartararo was able to emerge unscathed from all the chaos. Further down the road, Monster Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi collided with Alex Marquez and went down, dropping to P8.
At the front of the grid, Quartararo had solidified his lead to 0.720 seconds over Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez, with Ecstar Suzuki’s Joan Mir 0.970 seconds behind him. Going into Lap 2, and Quartararo was still flying along, Marc Marquez now 1.507 seconds behind him. And, because Joan Mir crashed out in the final moments of Lap 1, Alex Marquez had now made his way up to P3.
After recovering from the Lap 1 crash, Rossi was now in P6, trying to keep up with Joan Mir, and after a few attempts, was finally able to get an inside line pass, while Maverick Vinales crashed out, dropping to P9. Meanwhile, there was a change in second place, a reversal of the Marquez brothers’ places, with Alex now in P2 just as Lap 2 concluded.
The biggest change of Lap 3 was Quartararo lowsiding going into Curva Quercia (Corner 8), which led to Alex Marquez swooping into the lead. Quartarao, though, hit his stride quickly, keeping intact a 1.137-second lead over the elder Marquez. Soon enough, Fabio was once again breathing down Alex’s neck. Down the line Joan Mir went down again, miscalculating his overtaking line on Rossi, who was now in P4.
Going into Lap 4, and Fabio was now a consistent half-a-second behind the younger Marquez. However, try as he might, he was just unable to get through. Just down the line, Rossi (P4) seemed to have found his feet, and was starting to chip off on the 3-second gap between him and Marc Marquez. At the halfway point of the race now, Quartararo was just two-tenths off Alex Marquez’ pace, and seeming to come right beside him during the longer corners.
There was ‘blinking’ yet from Alex Marquez as he continued to hold his line, once again progressing to just over half-a-second from Fabio. In the middle of the pack, Aprilia Racing’s Lorenzo Savadori was now in P6, quite a commendable showing for someone in just their second virtual race appearance. Adding to this was the fact that he had two former race winners behind him in Maverick Vinales and Francesco Bagnaia, the pair of them showing nowhere near the same form we’ve seen in previous virtual races.
Meanwhile back at the front and it was still Alex Marquez leading the way, setting the space for a possible last lap battle, if this continues. And in yet another shocker, now in Lap 7, Quartararo’s umpteenth pass Alex Marquez ended with the duo making contact, and both ending up on terra firma (albeit virtually). This gave a clear path for Marc Marquez to take the lead, and sprinting away to a 1.353-second lead over brother (and teammate) Alex. Quartararo, meanwhile, was in P3, and 2.252 seconds behind Alex.
Coming into the penultimate lap, and marc Marquez was still 1.270 seconds ahead of Alex. In P4, Valentino Rossi was trying his best, and yet was just about 2 seconds off the rear wheel of Fabio Quartararo, and just under 4 seconds from the race leader. And speaking of a Hail Mary, Alex seemed to be chipping away the tenths, sector after sector, between him and brother Marc.
Into the final lap, and the brothers Marquez were both putting in near-identical lines, adding fuel to the idea of a last-lap battle, especially considering the rapid increase in pace from Fabio (still in P3) as well. However, coming to the penultimate sector of the last lap, and Fabio Quartararo lost his front and crashed out at Carro (Corner 14), handing P3 over to Valentino Rossi. However, the excitement was far from over, as in the last corner of the final lap, Alex Marquez dove inside Marc’s line for the left hander, deftly slotting himself into the lead spot.
Ultimately, it was Alex Marquez who took the win, his second victory so far in the Virtual Moto GP season, with brother Marc taking P2 and Valentino Rossi taking P3, the Italian racer’s first virtual podium, aptly at his home grand prix.
The final finishing sequence was as under: