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Drought-breaking Quartararo claims first MotoGP win in Jerez thriller

James Pavey

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Monday 20th July, 2020 - 1:03am

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Fabio Quartararo pic: MotoGP.com

Fabio Quartararo has ended France’s long wait for a new premier class winner with a maiden MotoGP win at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Over four months on from the cancelled Qatar season opener due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Petronas Yamaha SRT ace opened his winning account in the premier class.

The result marks the first French winner in the premier class since Regis Laconi at Valencia in 1999 – the year Quartararo was born.

The 25-lap thriller featured a topsy-turvy performance by reigning world champion Marc Marquez who, after recovering from an early off at Turn 4 to fight back to the lead pack, crashed heavily at the same corner in the closing laps.

Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) hit the lead off the line with a strong holeshot ahead of Marquez and Quartararo, who was pushed down to fourth by Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) at the hairpin.

On the fourth lap, Marquez cleared Vinales and attempted to create a gap, only to bowl a wide at Turn 4. The Repsol Honda rider managed to remain upright with a stunning save, but dropped to last place.

Vinales regained the lead and Quartararo made it a Yamaha 1-2 on Lap 6. By the next lap, Marquez’s comeback was well and truly underway, with the Spaniard having already climbed six places to 12th after falling to 18th following his Lap 5 mistake.

Vinales began to struggle and the pace slowed in the lead pack. All the while, Marquez picked off rider after rider, and when Vinales overcooked it heading into the final corner on Lap 9, Quartararo was back in the lead.

Quartararo began to check out at the front, with the gap to Miller – who had also picked off an ailing Vinales – out to four seconds with eight laps remaining.

Marquez continued to power forward, picking off Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) before setting off after Miller.

However, after a tight battle with the Australian, Marquez again fell foul at Turn 4, suffering a shocking highside and being loaded into an ambulance wearing a neck brace.

From there, Quartararo was never headed, the 21-year-old beating Vinales to the flag by 4.603s with Dovizioso ousting Miller for the final podium placing.

Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) pipped Espargaro to fifth, with Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing), Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3), Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) and Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) rounding out the top 10.

However, all smiles were reserved for Quartararo, who couldn’t hide his emotions having fallen short of victory several times in a breakout 2019 season.

“F***ing hell, the best moment of my life for sure,” an exhausted Quartararo told the broadcast after the race.

“It feels so strange to race without the fans, obviously I would love to cheer with them.

“This race was for them, for all the people affected by COVID, and for my family and brother always supporting me, and my parents.”

The season will remain at Jerez with the second round, the Gran Premio Red Bull de Andalucia, to be held next week.

Race results: Spanish MotoGP

Pos Num Rider Nat Team Bike Time/Gap
1 20 Fabio QUARTARARO FRA Petronas Yamaha SRT Yamaha 41:23.796
2 12 Maverick VIÑALES ESP Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha +4.603
3 04 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Ducati Team Ducati +5.946
4 43 Jack MILLER AUS Pramac Racing Ducati +6.668
5 21 Franco MORBIDELLI ITA Petronas Yamaha SRT Yamaha +6.844
6 44 Pol ESPARGARO ESP Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM +6.938
7 63 Francesco BAGNAIA ITA Pramac Racing Ducati +13.027
8 88 Miguel OLIVEIRA POR Red Bull KTM Tech 3 KTM +13.441
9 9 Danilo PETRUCCI ITA Ducati Team Ducati +19.651
10 30 Takaaki NAKAGAMI JPN LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda +21.553
11 5 Johann ZARCO FRA Hublot Reale Avintia Racing Ducati +25.100
12 73 Alex MARQUEZ ESP Repsol Honda Team Honda +27.350
13 33 Brad BINDER RSA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM +29.640
14 53 Tito RABAT ESP Hublot Reale Avintia Racing Ducati +32.898
15 38 Bradley SMITH GBR Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia +39.682
DNF 93 Marc MARQUEZ ESP Repsol Honda Team Honda 4 Laps
DNF 27 Iker LECUONA ESP Red Bull KTM Tech 3 KTM 6 Laps
DNF 46 Valentino ROSSI ITA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 7 Laps
DNF 41 Aleix ESPARGARO ESP Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia 23 Laps
DNF 36 Joan MIR ESP Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki 24 Laps

Race winner: 25 laps

Championship points

Pos Rider Nat Pts
1 Fabio QUARTARARO FRA 25
2 Maverick VIÑALES ESP 20
3 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA 16
4 Jack MILLER AUS 13
5 Franco MORBIDELLI ITA 11
6 Pol ESPARGARO ESP 10
7 Francesco BAGNAIA ITA 9
8 Miguel OLIVEIRA POR 8
9 Danilo PETRUCCI ITA 7
10 Takaaki NAKAGAMI JPN 6
11 Johann ZARCO FRA 5
12 Alex MARQUEZ ESP 4
13 Brad BINDER RSA 3
14 Tito RABAT ESP 2
15 Bradley SMITH GBR 1
16 Marc MARQUEZ ESP
17 Iker LECUONA ESP
18 Valentino ROSSI ITA
19 Aleix ESPARGARO ESP
20 Joan MIR ESP

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