Mir on brink of championship after first race win

Joan Mir heads Alex Rins pic: MotoGP.com

Joan Mir is more than a round clear atop the MotoGP championship after taking a career-first race win in a Suzuki one-two at Valencia.

Alex Rins finished second having held the lead for most of the first 17 laps of the European Grand Prix, while pole-sitter Pol Espargaro ended up third on his factory Red Bull KTM.

Takaaki Nakagami took fourth, ahead of Miguel Oliveira and Jack Miller, the latter of whom ran as low as 11th in the early stages of the dry, 27-lap affair.

Yamaha’s weekend of woe continued with Franco Morbidelli bringing the first of the M1s home in just 11th position, Maverick Viñales finishing 13th from a pit lane start, and Fabio Quartararo home in 14th following an early crash.

Those results mean Mir’s championship lead has blown out to 37 points, with Quartararo second on the table and only two races to go.

Pol Espargaro led Rins into Turn 1, where Nakagami (Idemitsu LCR Honda) made third position his, ahead of Mir and Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3).

Mir passed Nakagami at Turn 6, before Aleix Espargaro (Gresini Aprilia) and Quartararo (Petronas SRT Yamaha) went down simultaneously but separately from eighth and ninth respectively at Turn 8.

As Lap 1 became Lap 2, Oliveira moved into fourth when he passed Nakagami on the main straight, while Quartararo had remounted and was circulating in 20th.

The Suzuki Ecstar riders found Turn 11 to their liking, Rins taking the lead there on Lap 2 and Mir going past Pol Espargaro to move into second spot two laps later.

Meanwhile, Miller (Pramac Ducati) had passed Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda) for ninth before going by Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) for eighth on Lap 6.

Pol Espargaro drifted to almost a second behind the Suzukis before closing back up as proceedings moved beyond Lap 10, by which time Miller was ahead of Morbidelli (Petronas SRT Yamaha) and into seventh.

Nakagami had continued to run in fifth spot until he reclaimed a position from Oliveira at the final corner on Lap 15, with the podium then almost two seconds away.

Mir had stuck with Rins and pounced when his team-mate left a gap at Turn 11 on Lap 17, then quickly stretched his advantage to 0.657s with the new fastest lap on Lap 19.

Miller was back to where he started when he got Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Ducati) for sixth at Turn 1 on Lap 20, although they had traded places again by the time they were next back to the main straight.

With five laps remaining, Mir’s lead was over a second for the first time, as Miller passed Dovizioso for good.

At the front, the contest was also over, and #36 could cruise to the chequered flag after starting the final lap with a 1.4s buffer.

Rins’ second placing takes him to third in the championship, behind Quartararo only on a countback, and Pol Espargaro was never outside the top three all afternoon.

Behind Nakagami, Oliveira, and Miller at the end was Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory), despite an early long lap as punishment for taking the #43 Ducati out last round.

Rounding out the top 10 were Dovizioso, Zarco, and Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team), with the other finishers being Morbidelli, Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda), Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha), and Quartararo, respectively.

Marquez was among those who did not make the chequered flag, crashing at Turn 1 moments after being passed for eighth by Dovizioso with four laps remaining and nearly taking the Italian with him.

Valentino Rossi was an early retirement with a suspected fuel pump problem for his Monster Energy Yamaha.

MotoGP is back at Valencia this coming weekend for the penultimate round of the season.

Race results: European MotoGP

Pos Num Rider Nat Team Bike Time/Gap
1 36 Joan MIR ESP Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki 41:37.297
2 42 Alex RINS ESP Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki +0.651
3 44 Pol ESPARGARO ESP Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM +1.203
4 30 Takaaki NAKAGAMI JPN LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda +2.194
5 88 Miguel OLIVEIRA POR Red Bull KTM Tech 3 KTM +8.046
6 43 Jack MILLER AUS Pramac Racing Ducati +8.755
7 33 Brad BINDER RSA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM +10.137
8 04 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Ducati Team Ducati +10.801
9 5 Johann ZARCO FRA Esponsorama Racing Ducati +11.550
10 9 Danilo PETRUCCI ITA Ducati Team Ducati +16.803
11 21 Franco MORBIDELLI ITA Petronas Yamaha SRT Yamaha +17.617
12 6 Stefan BRADL GER Repsol Honda Team Honda +24.350
13 12 Maverick VIÑALES ESP Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha +25.403
14 20 Fabio QUARTARARO FRA Petronas Yamaha SRT Yamaha +39.639
DNF 32 Lorenzo SAVADORI ITA Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia 2 Laps
DNF 73 Alex MARQUEZ ESP Repsol Honda Team Honda 4 Laps
DNF 53 Tito RABAT ESP Esponsorama Racing Ducati 14 Laps
DNF 63 Francesco BAGNAIA ITA Pramac Racing Ducati 22 Laps
DNF 46 Valentino ROSSI ITA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 23 Laps
DNF 41 Aleix ESPARGARO ESP Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia 0 Lap

Race winner: 27 laps

Championship points

Pos Rider Nat Pts
1 Joan MIR ESP 162
3 Alex RINS ESP 125
4 Maverick VIÑALES ESP 121
6 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA 117
8 Takaaki NAKAGAMI JPN 105
9 Jack MILLER AUS 92
10 Miguel OLIVEIRA POR 90
11 Danilo PETRUCCI ITA 77
12 Brad BINDER RSA 76
13 Johann ZARCO FRA 71
14 Alex MARQUEZ ESP 67
15 Valentino ROSSI ITA 58
16 Francesco BAGNAIA ITA 42
17 Iker LECUONA ESP 27
20 Stefan BRADL GER 16
21 Bradley SMITH GBR 12
22 Tito RABAT ESP 10
23 Michele PIRRO ITA 4

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