MotoGP: Marquez dominates as Quartararo cruelly denied

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Marc Marquez has taken a home win in the Spanish Grand Prix, putting in a flawless performance to make some amends for his crash out the lead in Texas – and taking back the Championship lead. Alex Rins, despite a difficult qualifying, sliced through to take second and second in the championship by just a single point, with Maverick Viñales on the podium for the first time this season in third.

Speaking afterwards, Marquez said: “This race was a mental race, more than a physical one. After the mistake in Austin it wasn’t easy to lead the race like that from beginning to end, but I knew I had the pace to do it and the bike to do it. I wanted to do a race like in Argentina and at the start in Austin to prove it was a mistake there. I felt good all weekend, smooth, comfortable and able to ride how I want. Thanks to the Repsol Honda team, they’ve done an amazing job over the last few weeks and here this weekend. It’s great to be leading the championship again.”

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Andrea Dovizioso limted the damage to his own championship campaign in fourth, ahead of teammate Danilo Petrucci and a resurgent Valentino Rossi, fighting his way forward from 13th on the grid. Franco Morbidelli was seventh, ahead of Brit Cal Crutchlow, despite sitting for second for much of the race. Honda duo Takaaki Nakagami and Stefan Bradl rounded out the top ten.

However, there was heartbreak for pole position man Fabio Quartararo, with the French rookie spending much of the race fighting for the podium only to be cruelly denied by a mechanical problem.

Quartararo and Morbidelli create historic one-two

Petronas Yamaha duo Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli have scored a historic one-two in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez, taking the top two spots on the grid for tomorrow’s race in only the Malaysian team’s fourth outing in the premiere class. Quartararo, fast all weekend, obliterated the circuit lap record ahead of his teammate, leaving 2018 winner Marc Marquez to salvage the only remaining spot on the front row.

Speaking afterwards, the 20 year old said: “What I’ve experienced this Saturday here in Jerez is incredible. I still can’t believe it. I did not expect to take pole today, so it was fantastic. This is the result of the entire team’s work throughout the weekend. I want to thank them for making this possible. In addition to being fast over a single lap, I think our race pace is good, so I hope to be able to fight for a great result. This pole and Franky’s second position are very special for the team. We are a new team in the class and it is incredible to achieve a 1-2 at only the fourth round of the year. I hope we can achieve this more often during the season.”

Andrea Dovizioso was fourth, a strong showing for him at a track where traditionally the Ducati hasn’t been strong, ahead of the first of the factory Yamahas of Maverick Viñales, while Brit Cal Crutchlow salvaged a second row start after crashing earlier in the day.

It was a disappointing day for Valentino Rossi, though, who will start from a distant eleventh, after suffering all day to find a feeling from his M1 machine.

Petrucci tops opening day in Jerez

Ducati rider Danilo Petrucci has put in a surprise performance on the opening day of action at the Spanish Grand Prix to top the time sheets, making solid progress at a circuit that’s never been the Ducatis’ best track to end the day faster than reigning champion Marc Marquez. Aided by a late red flag that brought the session to a pause with only two minutes left to run, Petrucci goes into the second day tomorrow with a very slender 0.012 advantage over the Repsol Honda rider.

Speaking afterwards, he said: “I’m happy with how this first day of practice went. I didn’t do a perfect lap, but it was enough to finish on top, and I was quite competitive especially in terms of pace. We made very few changes on the bike, finding a good rhythm also with the hard rear tyre, but FP4 tomorrow will be crucial to finalize the choice of the compounds for the race. Qualifying has been my weak point so far this year, so we’ll keep our guard up. I think tomorrow morning the lap times will drop further, but in the meantime we started off on the right foot. Our goal is to qualify on the first couple of rows on the grid, then to challenge for the podium on Sunday.”

Teammate Andrea Dovizioso was third behind Marquez, with the second Repsol Honda machine of Jorge Lorenzo showing strongly for the first time this year in fourth. Brit Cal Crutchlow was fifth, leading Maverick Viñales, but it was a disappointing day for the second of the Monster Energy Yamahas with Valentino Rossi a distant 16th.

Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer