Vinales steals the thunder at Misano
Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) took the top spot in the second race at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, relegating Suzuki Ecstar’s Joan Mir, who rose all the way from a P11 start, to a second-place finish. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) rounded off the podium, after Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) was handed a three-second penalty for exceeding track limits, demoting him to P4.
Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) got a great launch from P2, briefly overtaking polesitter Vinales, with Quartararo in P3. Meanwhile, Pramac Racing’s Francesco Bagnaia, who started P5, got past Pol Espargaro, and into P4. Vinales, however, didn’t take long to take the lead, going up the inside at Turn 4. Meanwhile, last week’s winner Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) somehow stayed on his bike after Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) tucked the front and almost took him down.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Brad Binder, who started P6, moved up a spot, ahead of teammate Espargaro. Vinales had a 0.9-second lead over the line as the riders clocked onto Lap 2, while teammate Valentino Rossi was soon out of his 250th Grand Prix with Yamaha, going down at Turn 4. Though he soon remounted, his dreams of a home podium were dashed.
Bagnaia, meanwhile, had got past teammate Miller and was P2 with Binder P3. The rookie was on a charge and set the fastest lap of the race closing in on Vinales, with Binder going down at Corner 14. Bagnaia closed Vinales down again on the following lap as Pol Espargaro set the fastest lap of the race in P3, with Binder crashing again at Turn 1, ending his race.
Bagnaia chased down Vinales on Lap 5, with the duo pulling away from Espargaro and Quartararo. Bagnaia set another fastest lap of the race – at 1:32.3 minutes – before taking the lead after Vinales ran wide at Corner 4, immediately getting to half a second ahead of Vinales.
Further back, Mir had now managed to get to the front of the battle, though the gap to Quartararo was 3.5 seconds on Lap 7. A few more laps down, the gap between the leading two was just below 0.6 seconds, with Vinales slightly quicker than Bagnaia. But then the Pramac rider started to up the ante, getting to the one-second mark on Lap 11, and on to 1.4 seconds, with Quartararo setting his fastest lap of the race on Lap 11, though Mir was going even quicker behind. Bagnaia had got the gap up to over a second but Vinales wasn’t letting the sophomore pull away, the lead was tinkering between 1.1 and 1.4 seconds as Quartararo reeled in Espargaro. Mir, with eight laps to go, was now under two seconds away from the podium fight.
With seven laps to go and the Espargaro-Quartararo battle intensifying, race leader Bagnaia crashed out at Corner 6, effectively ending his bid at a dream maiden MotoGP win. However, this also meant Vinales now had a massive 4-second lead. Behind him, Espargaro was fending off Quartararo, with an equally determined Mir just 0.6 seconds behind. Then, with six laps to go, Quartararo was handed a track limits warning – something that would prove to be costly for El Diablo in a few minutes time.
Mir made his move with a scant three laps to go, going underneath and past Quartararo in Corner 2. Quartararo then pounced at Turn 3, pushing Espargaro from P2 to P4, and which seemed to end the podium hopes for Espargaro, who looked to be struggling with his tyres. Soon after, however, Quartararo was handed a long-lap penalty for repeatedly exceeding track limits, his only time to do it was on the last lap. Quartararo was just over a second clear of Espargaro and four seconds ahead of fifth place Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3) – so it looked like he was going to lose P3. However, Quartararo didn’t take the long lap penalty, which meant he would be handed a three-second penalty at the finish.
Ultimately Vinales scored his first victory since the 2019 Malaysian GP, with Mir in tow, claiming his third podium in four races. Now, though Quartararo came in third at the flag, the aforementioned three-second penalty promoted Pol Espargaro to third place, his second podium of the season.
Below are the final results of race seven of the 2020 MotoGP season:
Speaking now about the overall standings, Quartararo’s fourth-place finish, coupled with Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) taking P8, puts Vinales at level with him (both at 83), and just one point behind leader Dovizioso. Meanwhile, Mir, who now stands fourth overall is just four points from the title leader. All in all, the 2020 MotoGP season is turning out to be quite a stunner!