Quartararo wins Andalusian MotoGP as Yamaha dominate
For the first time since Phillip Island 2014, Yamaha has three machines on the podium. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) was utterly dominant on Sunday at the Gran Premio Red Bull de Andalucia, with Maverick Viñales and Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP teammate Valentino Rossi having a memorable fight for the rostrum – this is The Doctor’s first podium since the 2019 Americas GP.
Quartararo got the best launch from the front row with Rossi also getting away splendidly from P4, but drama unfolded behind as fifth place Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3) crashed in a Turn 1 melee that involved Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Bradley Smith (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini). The Portuguese rider was down and out of the race, with Binder running off the circuit and dropping to the back, with Smith’s race compromised too.
There was a three-way Yamaha scrap at the front though and it was Quartararo leading Viñales and Rossi, who had a slight gap to the two Pramac Racing riders of the quick starting Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia. Quartararo was getting down to business though and Viñales was wide at the final corner trying to get past Quartararo, which let The Doctor through.
This spelt bad news for Viñales who could see Quartararo striding clear and the Spaniard was impatient – but there was no way past his teammate. Just behind, Bagnaia went for P4 underneath Miller but was wide, then made a miraculous save to keep his GP20 upright.
Quartararo’s lead on Lap 4 was up to 1.5 seconds and Viñales couldn’t find a way through on Rossi. The Pramac Racing duo was also breathing down the YZR-M1 rider’s neck as the number 20 Petronas Yamaha SRT started to clear off into the distance. Rossi couldn’t do anything about Quartararo’s pace that was well over half a second quicker a lap, by Lap 6 it the Frenchman’s lead was nearly three seconds.
With 10 laps down Quartararo’s lead was looking unassailable, with Bagnaia making progress to get through on Miller and Viñales, as the Italian locked his radar onto the boss’ rear wheel. However, the race in Jerez was quickly starting to become a race of attrition in the blistering Andalusian heat – some parts of the track were sitting at a ridiculous 63 degrees. Miller slid out of contention at Turn 9 having made his way through on Viñales at the beginning of the lap, with teammate Bagnaia soon passing Rossi for second place.
Morbidelli had made steady progress and was the fastest man on track as he went in the hunt for that illustrious first MotoGP™ podium. But then it was a cruel end to the Italian’s race as he encountered engine troubles with nine laps to go. Heartbreak for Morbidelli, and there would be more incoming for his compatriot PeccoBagnaia. Safely in P2 ahead of Rossi, smoke started to stream out of his GP20. The 2018 Moto2™ World Champion didn’t realise at first but heading onto the back straight, just six laps away from spraying the bubbly, Bagnaia was out of contention.
This saw Rossi back up into second, with Viñales back in the podium places just behind. El Diablo’s lead was up to nearly nine seconds and the win – barring any mistakes or reliability issues – was his. Viñales was clambering all over the back of the number 46 but Rossi was a demon on the brakes heading into the Dani Pedrosa corner. It was really looking like Viñales just wouldn’t be able to find a way through but having not put a wheel wrong for the whole race, Rossi was slightly wide at Turn 9 – and Top Gun pounced. Viñales was up to second and was able to immediately get some bike lengths on Rossi, who couldn’t relax with TakaakiNakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) just eight tenths down.
However, at the front, it was all about one man. Quartararo made no mistakes in the brutal conditions to take his second consecutive victory, cementing his lead in the Championship over second-place Viñales. The Spaniard salvaged second place which could be crucial in the long run, but he had no answer for his 2021 teammate today. Rossi’s return to the rostrum is more than welcomed for the 41-year-old, a mesmerising ride in these conditions by Rossi who now notches up 199 MotoGP™ podiums, his 235th across all classes.
Nakagami’s P4 was the Japanese rider’s best ride in the premier class. Finishing just 6.113 away from the win and half a second from the podium is phenomenal for Nakagami who sits 4th in the Championship heading to Brno. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) banished the demons from the Spanish GP to finish 5th seven days later – his equal-best in MotoGP™. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) recovered from a P14 starting slot to take sixth in Jerez after a third-place finish last weekend. It’s just about all the Italian could have hoped for, with Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) the only KTM to finish in a tough day for the Austrian factory with Oliveira, Binder and Iker Lecuona (Red Bull KTM Tech3) all crashing out.
Just 1.8 seconds behind Pol Espargaro was Repsol Honda Team’s Alex Marquez, the reigning Moto2™ World Champion produced an impressive ride in just his second MotoGP™ race in the toughest of conditions to take the chequered flag in P8. The lone Repsol Honda managed to beat Johann Zarco (HublotRealeAvintia) as the Frenchman took P9, with the remarkable Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) defying the odds to complete the race and take 10th. An unbelievable and super-human effort from the Spaniard suffering a dislocation-fracture to his shoulder eight days ago. Tito Rabat (HublotRealeAvintia), Smith and the other injured rider on the grid Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) were the final finishers – a sterling effort from the latter.
Binder once again showed his cracking pace after dropping back in the Turn 1 incident, but the South African rookie crashed unhurt at Turn 13. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) and AleixEspargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) also crashed – riders ok.
50 from 50. Quartararo has had a perfect couple of weekends in Jerez and will head to Brno as the title leader. Viñales takes home two-second places – far from a disaster – and will be looking to build on a successful weekend, with reigning World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) returning to the MotoGP™ arena.
What a breath-taking way to start the 2020 MotoGP™ season. Jerez has hosted two blisteringly brilliant races as the riders now have a well-earned weekend off before Brno.
The next race will be the Monster Energy Grand Prix Českérepubliky on August 9, 2020, and will be LIVE on Eurosport and Eurosport HD.