Moto2: Luca Marini extends championship lead with San Marino GP victory

Luca Marini improved his Moto2 title chances after overcoming a late challenge from teammate Marco Bezzecchi to take victory at Misano.

The Italian had opened up a healthy advantage over the field until he hit a false neutral heading into turn 14 with seven laps remaining. Bezzecchi took full advantage and took the lead of the race for the first time.

The story at Misano

A battle would take place between the two Sky Racing Team VR46 duo, with Marini momentarily taking the lead back on the brakes at turn eight, only for Bezzecchi to respond immediately. 

Marini tired again on the following lap, but Bezzecchi was wise to it once more. Marini managed to get the job done with a tough move through turn 11. Team boss Pablo Nieto had seen enough and was seen on the pit wall sending a ‘calm down’ message to both riders. 

Marini pulled away from danger and secured his second victory of 2020, but Bezzecchi was in danger of being passed by Enea Bastianini. Bezzecchi also hit a false neutral and allowed Bastianini to close in on the final lap. It was too late for Bastianini to make a move however and Bezzecchi secured a one-two for the VR46 Academy. 

Bastianini’s third position leaves him 17 points behind Marini in this year’s title fight, with Bezzecchi now 27 points behind in third spot. 

Xavi Vierge was fourth ahead of Augusto Fernandez and Thomas Luthi. Fabio Di Giannantonio was seventh ahead of Sam Lowes in eighth. Lowes’ eighth place finish was a remarkable achievement given that he had to start the race from pitlane. Lowes didn’t enter the race until all the riders had passed the pitlane exit – at turn three. 

Aron Canet and Joe Roberts completed the top 10, whilst Jake Dixon narrowly missed out on the points in 16th. 

Remy Gardner, who had inherited pole position following Lowes’ penalty, was unable to start the race after a huge highside in Sundays warm up. Gardner was diagnosed with a broken thumb and three fractures to his left foot. The Australian is due to have surgery tomorrow morning (September 15).

San Marino GP - Moto2 Result

Moto3: John McPhee battles through the pack to secure Misano victory

First published: 14 September 2020 by Josh Close

John McPhee wins at Misano

John McPhee battled back from 17th on the grid to take his first victory of the 2020 Moto3 season at Misano.

The Scot used his vast experience in the lightweight class to steadily move himself up the order and was inside the top six with seven laps remaining. McPhee hit the front of the field for the first time as they crossed the line with three laps remaining, before almost losing the front on the following lap.

This allowed Jaume Masia and Gabriel Rodrigo through as the riders started the final lap, with Tatsuki Suzuki also going around the outside. McPhee kept his cool though and regained the lead at turn eight after contact between Masia and Rodrigo. 

In the end it came down to McPhee and Ai Ogura, with McPhee managing to keep his rival at bay to take his first victory since Le Mans in 2019. Ogura was just +0.037s behind the race winner. 

To make things even better for McPhee and Ogura, championship leader Albert Arenas crashed out of contention at turn three after being pushed out wide by Tony Arbolino. Ogura is now only five points behind Arenas, whilst McPhee is 14 points behind in third spot. 

Suzuki completed the podium on the SIC58 Squadra Corse bike. It’s the first time that two Japanese riders have been on the lightweight podium together since Welkom 2001 – when Youichi Ui and Noboru Ueda finished first and third respectively. 

Jeremy Alcoba secured the best result of his rookie season in fourth, ahead of Rodrigo and Arbolino. Masia fell back to seventh on a typically hectic final lap in Moto3. Romano Fenati finished in eighth, his best result of the year, with Dennis Foggia and Andrea Migno completing the top 10. 

Alongside Arenas, Darryn Binder also crashed out of the race. Having fought his way through from 19th on the grid, the South African found himself up in fourth on lap five. A few laps later Binder had the lead of the race, and an exciting battle would follow with Rodrigo and Arbolino. The battle with the leading group came to an end with nine laps remaining, with Binder losing rear of his KTM on the curb at turn six. 

Raul Fernandez and Celestino Vietti were taken out of contention on the opening lap when Sergio Garcia tucked the front. Ayumu Sasaki and Alonso Lopez crashed out whilst battling together in the leading group at Turn eight in the early stages. 

Moto3 San Marino GP - Race Results

MotoGP: Franco Morbidelli secures maiden victory at Misano

First published: 14 September 2020 by Josh Close

Franco Morbidelli wins at Misano

Franco Morbidelli became the fourth rider in six races to win their first-ever MotoGP race after a dominating display at Misano. 

Morbidelli launched himself into the lead from the middle of the front row as the pack went down into turn one. The Petronas Yamaha rider had Valentino Rossi for company in the opening few laps but was able to keep a comfortable lead.

Morbidelli pulled the pin with 12 laps remaining and extended his lead to around 1.7s over Rossi. The 25-year-old controlled the pace from this point and crossed the line, having led every lap, with a +2.217s advantage over the field. He becomes the fifth different winner of this unpredictable 2020 MotoGP season.

Francesco Bagnaia ended the race as Morbidelli’s nearest challenger after a combination of Ducati power, good tyre management, and sheer determination helped him to overcome Rossi and Joan Mir. It’s Bagnaia’s first podium in the premier class and his performance was remarkable given that it was his first race back since breaking his leg – the Italian still required a crutch in order to walk before and after the race. 

Rossi was unable to join his two VR46 Academy riders on the podium. The 41-year-old was pipped to the post by Mir, who dove down the inside of the Italian at turn 10 on the final lap. Rossi attempted to fight back coming into the turn 14 hairpin but went slightly wide at turn 13. It would have been a dream podium for the VR46 Academy at their home circuit, and also Rossi’s 200th, but it wasn’t to be. 

Alex Rins was fifth on the second Suzuki after losing out to his teammate as they crossed the line to start the final lap. Rins was almost out of his seat on the exit of turn 15, before running wide at the final corner, allowing Rins to ride past down the straight. Rins later revealed that he was struggling for strength in his right arm due to the shoulder injury in suffered earlier in the year. 

Maverick Vinales endured another difficult Sunday in sixth. The Monster Energy Yamaha rider had taken pole with a new lap record but dropped to fourth on the opening lap. Vinales was the only rider to choose the hard rear tyre and was unable to match the pace of those around him in the early stages. 

Andrea Dovizioso also struggled on the Ducati in seventh and had a relatively quiet race. However, in what could be a pivotal incident in the title battle, Dovizioso leaves Misano with the championship lead after Fabio Quartararo crashed out of contention. 

Quartararo dropped to fifth at the start of the race but after passing Vinales he began chasing down Jack Miller in third. The Frenchman would push too hard heading into turn four and tucked the front of his Yamaha. Quartararo re-joined in 20th before pulling into the pits to check on his engine. He re-joined the race but crashed almost immediately due to a cold front tyre. 

Miller, Takaaki Nakagami and Pol Espargaro completed the top 10 at Misano. Nakagami was demoted one position for exceeding track limits on the final lap. Miguel Oliveira (11th), Brad Binder (12th), Aleix Espargaro (13th), Iker Lecuona (14th) and Johann Zarco (15th) picked up the final point scoring positions. 

Tito Rabat was the only other rider to crash out of the race, hitting the deck at turn nine with a few laps remaining. 

Dovizioso now has a six-point advantage over Quartararo in the championship. It’s tight though, with only 28 points covering the top 10 in the standings. MotoGP returns to Misano this weekend for round eight of the season.

MotoGP San Marino GP Results - Misano

MotoGP: Fabio Quartararo leads a Yamaha 1-2-3 on Friday at Misano

First published: 11 September 2020 by Josh Close

Fabio Quartararo tops Friday at Misano

Fabio Quartararo ended the opening day of action at Misano on top of the leader board after leading a Yamaha 1-2-3 at the San Marino Grand Prix.

The Frenchman went quickest with his final flying lap, posting a time of 1:32.189. That was enough to knock Maverick Vinales off of top spot in the combined standings by +0.009s. Vinales did not improve in this afternoon’s session, finishing sixth, after focusing on a long run on the hard tyre. 

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Franco Morbidelli was second in FP2 (+0.178s) and therefore third overall on Friday’s timesheets, making it a Yamaha hat-trick at the top. 

Pol Espargaro was the leading KTM rider in fourth spot overall, ahead of Iker Lecouna on the Tech3 KTM machine. Valentino was sixth on the second of the Monster Energy Yamaha bikes, whilst Danilo Petrucci was the leading Ducati rider in seventh.

Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira ensured that all four KTMs were inside the top 10, finishing the day in eighth and ninth respectively. Aleix Espargaro completed the top 10 for Aprilia, after finishing FP1 in third position. 

Andrea Dovizioso, winner of the Austrian GP, currently sits just outside of the top 10 in 11th. Takaaki Nakagami is once again the leading Honda in 12th, ahead of Alex Rins on the fastest Suzuki in 13th. 

Joan Mir was 15th on the second Suzuki, whilst Jack Miller could only manage 17th on the Pramac Ducati. Francesco Bagnaia was 18th on his return from a right tibia fracture, having missed the last three races. 

Cal Crutchlow was 19th having passed his medical at the circuit yesterday. The LCR Honda rider is currently recovering from an arm pump operation. Crutchlow developed arm pump in his right arm whilst trying to limit any further damage or pain to his fractured left scaphoid. In his media debrief on Thursday, Crutchlow admitted he’s had problems with fluid build-up in his right arm since the operation and will be closely monitoring the situation. 

The Brit was quicker than both Repsol Honda riders, with Stefan Bradl and Alex Marquez ending the day 20th and 21st respectively. 

In the Moto2 class Enea Bastianini leads the way ahead of EG 0,0 Marc VDS duo, Sam Lowes and Augusto Fernandez. In Moto3, Raul Fernandez topped the opening day ahead of Gabriel Rodrigo and 2019 race winner Tatsuki Suzuki in third.

MotoGP FP3 is scheduled to take place tomorrow morning (September 12) at 08:55. That will be followed by FP4 at 12:30, which is immediately followed by the two qualifying sessions at 13:10.

MotoGP San Marino GP - Friday Combined Times