The massive five week gap is finally at it’s end. Moto GP is soon to return to our TV screens this Friday 6th August, with the qualifying on Saturday 7th and race on Sunday 8th.
Even though racing was on a break, news stories kept on coming in.
Since the fantastic Assen weekend with the two Yamaha teammates finishing first and second, one of them decided to pull out of his contract with Yamaha earlier than expected. Maverick Vinales will be parting ways with the factory team at the end of the 2021 season. Unfortunately, this may not come as much of a surprise as Vinales has been quite open about his feelings within the team recently and has been seen to be dejected many times in interviews. It has been rumoured that he will be joining Aprilia in 2022, as of yet, nothing has been confirmed or denied.
More news from Yamaha, but this time from Petronas Yamaha. It was announced that Franco Morbidelli will not be competing in the next three rounds due to a knee injury, sustained in a training accident, prior to the Assen race. Morbidelli has had knee trouble in the past, hopefully this time the injury can be corrected for good. Wishing him all the best of luck in his recovery.
Morbidelli is not expected to return to racing until September at Aragon
With Morbidelli out for three races, Petronas Yamaha have recruited British racer Cal Crutchlow. Having retired from Moto GP last year in 2020, Cal has been a test rider for Yamaha, so it did seem like the obvious choice. Crutchlow is a massive fan favourite and an all-round good guy and rider. He will be racing in Styria, Austria and his home track at Silverstone. So be sure to show your support for him.
When Franko returns to the paddock there will be some changes to the 2021 calendar:
For the second time in a row Australia and Thailand will not feature in the Moto GP season. Due to the on-going Covid 19 pandemic and travel restrictions, creating difficult decisions to be made. As a result of this the Malaysian Grand Prix has been brought forward a week, Portimao replaces Phillip Island and the Algarve GP has been added in November, for a second year in a row.
This weekend though also sees the return of the Spaniard Dani Pedrosa. After, retiring back in 2018 from Repsol Honda, Dani has been a test rider for KTM ever since. He has been hailed as a massive part of their recent success in 2020 and 2021. He will be stepping in as a wildcard rider for the one-off race. Could this be the first of many appearances from the number 26?
From retirements to returns there has been one consistent in the whole of Moto GP for the past 25 years. The nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi will be celebrating this amazing anniversary.
Sunday 15th August will be the Austrian GP and in 1996 Rossi took his first ever podium, in third place, competing in the 125 class. His 200th podium is still eluding him though, will we finally witness history being made in the second part of this season?
Reminder of the current championship standings as of the last race weekend at Assen:
Mir (Current Champion)
All information is current and correct on date of publication – 04-08-21
Going into the weekend Remy Gardner leads the Moto2 championship by 36 points from his teammate Raul Fernandez, but the rookie earns his fourth pole of the season, as an eventful race sees him dropping back to ninth then clawing his way back to emerge victorious in the 9th round of Moto2 2021.
Fernandez’s teammate Remy Gardner starts from 2nd place and Sam Lowes completes the front row, ahead of Aron Canet in 4th, Ai Ogura 5th and Jorge Navarro starting 6th.
Off the line it is Canet who gets the best start, forcing Raul out wide into the first bend, causing him to drop back to 4th. Della Porta who started 8th gets caught in the middle of the group into turn 2 – catches the rear wheel of Navarro and is spat off, fortunately avoiding the other machines as his bike is launched into the air from the centre of the pack.
Canet leads, Gardner in second is closely followed by Lowes in third. Tony Arbolino crashes out uninjured shortly after at turn 7, his bike flipping across the gravel.
Lowes moves up past Gardner, then takes Canet to lead at the end of the first lap – Lowes leads briefly before Canet reclaims the lead.
Ai Ogura and Augusto Fernandez pass Raul Fernandez. Raul runs wide through turns 6 & 7 and drops back to ninth as Schrotter passes him.
Gardner passes Lowes out of the chicane, and Lowes gets back past Canet to move back into 2nd
Joe Roberts crashes out at turn 9, meaning that both Italtrans bikes are out of the race.
Augusto Fernandez moves up into 3rd, as Raul battles for 7th, then gradually works himself back up to 6th.
With 20 laps to go Lowes starts to close the gap on Gardner. Approaching the start/finish line Lowes slots past, the two almost swapping paint, but Augusto Fernandez spots his opportunity and passes both of them, taking the lead, making it a 1-2 for Elf Marc VDS Racing Team, Gardner in 3rd and Aron Canet in 4th. Meanwhile Raul Fernandez is back up to 5th, and DiGiannantonio moves up past Ai Ogura into 6th.
On lap 7 Raul passes Canet to move up to 4th, as Lowes, who is all over the back of Augusto, passes him to take the lead. A gap of just over a second separates Gardner in 3rd and Raul in 4th, giving Raul a clear space to push on.
Gardner slots past Augusto into 2nd, and 3 laps later Raul catches Augusto, but Augusto takes Gardner to move back into 2nd.
On lap 14 Augusto Fernandez increases the pressure on Sam Lowes, passing him to take the lead, as Raul gets past his teammate Gardner to move up into 3rd.
Gardner starts to drop back slightly from the top 3, and shortly after Raul takes Lowes to move up into 2nd place. The leading 4 start to spread out as Lowes struggles to match Raul Fernandez’s pace, as DiGiannantonio crashes out at turn 9 from 6th.
Raul pursues Augusto, edging ever closer until he makes the move along the start/finish straight at the end of lap 17, with Augusto unable to come back at him.
Augusto runs wide, giving Lowes the opportunity to move up into 2nd. Raul is starting to stretch out his lead with a 0.8 second lead over Lowes.
Lap 20 sees Aron Canet crashes out of 7th place, sliding into the gravel at turn 3.
Raul leads by over a second, breaking away from Lowes, Augusto and Gardner. Into lap 22 at the end of the start/finish straight Augusto gets the drive past Lowes to move up into second. Lowes checks over his left shoulder into turn 1, as Gardner slips past on his right, dropping Lowes down into 4th.
At the end of lap 23 Gardner passes Augusto, who pushes hard but is unable to come back at Gardner.
Raul Fernandez takes his third win of the season, ahead of his teammate Remy Gardner, with Augusto Fernandez claiming the 3rd podium spot.
Gardner’s lead at the top of the championship narrows slightly to 31 points ahead of Raul Fernandez going into the summer break, Fernandez extends his lead over 3rd place Bezzecchi from 11 points to 25, and Lowes holds onto 4th place overall. With ten rounds still to go can Gardner hold onto the lead or will rookie Raul Fernandez spring yet more surprises?
First fifteen riders:
1 Raul Fernandez SPA – Red Bull Ajo KTM – 25 points
2 Remy Gardner AUS – Red Bull Ajo KTM – 20
3 Augusto Fernandez SPA – – 16
4 Sam Lowes BRI – Elf Marc VDS Racing Team – 13
5 Marco Bezzecchi ITA – Sky Racing Team VR46 – 11
6 Ai Ogura JPN – IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia – 10
7 Jorge Navarro SPA – MB Conveyors Speed Up – 9
8 Xavi Vierge SPA – Petronas Sprinta Racing – 8
9 Marcel Schrotter GER – Liqui Moly Intact – 7
10 Celestino Vietti ITA – SKY Racing Team VR46 – 6
11 Somkiat Chantra THA – IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia – 5
12 Albert Arenas SPA – Inde Aspar Team – 4
13 Stefano Manzi ITA – Flexbox HP40 – 3
14 Thomas Luthi SWI – Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team – 2
During the qualifying Johann Zarco (Ducati) took pole breaking Fabio Quartararo’s (Yamaha) row of poles. He then took a tumble on turn 4, with just over a minute of qualifying left. Moments later Takaaki Nakagami also fell – turn 1. Both incidents caused the yellow flags to be waved meaning that Zarco clinched pole from Quartararo, Jack Miller (Ducati) and Marc Marquez (Honda).
Although being hot and humid at the Sachsenring Circuit, there were clouds above which caused concerns that it might turn to rain, but the race was not declared a wet race.
The 30 lap circuit, with it’s mainly left-hander corners, along with the weather conditions could potentially play into Marquez’s hands – but was this too much to ask?
Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) led from the line, getting ahead of Marquez and Zarco. Whilst Marc went forwards, the championship leader went backwards. But it was Brad Binder (KTM) who gained the most places from the grid going up 6 places by lap 2.
M. Marquez soon took the lead from A. Espargaro, but Aleix didn’t want to give up the position easily and fought Marc for it. Meanwhile, Jack Miller (Ducati) and Quartararo had a tussle for 4th behind them.
It was the reigning champion Joan Mir (Suzuki) who quickly got the fastest lap, but it was soon taken by Marquez, who was all to happy to start gaining a lead on Aleix.
It wasn’t long until Miguel Oliveira (KTM) stole fastest lap, twice in a row and also passed Quartararo for 5th place. He was picking up the pace and fast. He knew he couldn’t let Marc get too far ahead, whether or not Marquez was 100% fit or not.
Lap 5, turn 1, during a racing incident, both Alex Marquez (Honda) and Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) fell into the gravel.
On the next lap, it was Lorenzo Savadori’s (Aprilia) turn to end his race early.
Seeing Marquez eek his lead out further Miller decided he needed to make a move on Zarco and passed him with 23 laps to go, into 3rd place.
But then, it seemed the weather had took a turn and the white flags started to be waved, which meant that riders could come into the pits to change their bikes should they wish to – in preparation for rain. However, lap 10 saw the white and red flags being waved, signifying rain. The clouds never picked up momentum though and no rider came into the pits to swap their bikes.
The number 93 knew some riders who saw drops on their visors may slow down and he saw this as his moment to really push forward. The gap between him and Miller soon became 1.417 seconds with 21 laps to the end.
All bikes had medium and hard tyre combinations except Nakagami’s Honda which had a soft rear tyre. It was either going to be a masterstroke or a disaster, it was not the former.
As the rain became a little harder A. Espargaro went from 2nd to 4th and Fabio passed Johann, to take 5th place. It was now Marquez leading Miller, Oliveira and A. Espargaro, going into lap 12.
It wasn’t long into the 12th lap that Oliveira secured 2nd from Miller and went straight into hunting down Marquez. The gap between the two was 1.669 seconds.
Oliveira soon managed to get away from the rest of the pack and secured another two fastest laps in a row, trying to hunt down the King of the Ring, but Marquez responded with another fastest lap and extended his lead to 1.989 seconds, half-way through the race.
Meanwhile, at the other end of group – Maverick Vinales (Yamaha) and Franko Morbidelli (Yamaha) were having an awful weekend, fighting to not be in last place.
Mini battles started to form, mainly between Binder and Zarco for 6th place and Quartararo and A. Espargaro for 4th.
The gap between Marquez and Oliveira slowly declined to 1.411 seconds, with 12 laps to go – could Miguel catch Marc?
Digging deep with 11 laps to go Marquez kept his consistent lap times and still led Oliveira, but Fabio and Jack had swapped positions in 3rd and 4th behind him.
A. Espargaro couldn’t hold onto his 5th place any longer from Binder, who needed to try and aim for a podium finish.
The gap dipped to just under one second between the Honda and the KTM in 1st and 2nd, with 5 laps to the chequered flag. But, Marquez responded in typical Marc-of-old style and found some energy and picked the pace up again and soon extended his lead to 1.095 seconds, which soon became 1.931 seconds with 3 laps to go.
During this time Zarco was passed by Pecco Bagnaia (Ducati), handing Fabio some more precious championship points and Binder passed Miller (whose tyres were starting to show signs of wear) for 4th place.
Last lap of the race and all Moto GP fans, regardless of who they follow or what team they support – were behind Marc Marquez to just stay on his Repsol Honda and win. And that was just what he did! For the first time in 581 days Marc Marquez passed the finish line in first place! Keeping his winning record at the Sachsenring going, this was his 8th victory in a row in the Premier Class at the German circuit and the 11th win in a row from all classes. Marquez also took his 57th Moto GP victory.
Holding himself together in the interview after the race he stated that he wanted to try and fight for a podium finish and that he wasn’t sure he could go for the win, saying …”it was really hard to concentrate…”.
Oliveira finished 2nd taking three podiums in a row for KTM. In his post-race interview he said …”I’ll take a second anyday at Sachsenring to him…” and Fabio Quartararo took the last podium position securing important points for his championship lead.
There was nothing but respect for Marc in Parc Ferme from all the riders – they all know and understand what he has gone through and what he has had to do to get back to where he is now.
It is undeniable that Marquez is King Of The Ring!
Race results: Top Ten:
Championship results: Top Four:
The championship is still extremely close and hard to predict. What will happen in the next round at Assen? It is a typically good track for Yamaha, but will the race mirror this?
It is a home track for many of the riders but it was a Frenchman that claimed pole.
During Q1 Marc Marquez (Honda) decided to follow and gain a tow from Jack Miller (Ducati). Unfortunately, given his best efforts, this didn’t help Marquez and he couldn’t manage better than 13th place.
Miller on the other-hand made it all the way through and finished on the front row. Even a crash didn’t interfere with his result.
Viewers may have noticed that Alex Rins (Suzuki) wasn’t out on track, this was due to a cycling accident that occurred off-track where he went into a Dorna vehicle and hurt his wrist. He would also not participate in the race.
Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) would start from pole (his fifth pole in a row this year). Miller second and Zarco third – finishing the front row.
The Catalan circuit always produces some entertaining races and this one was no exception. But there was a twist in the script book, which saw it be thrown completely out of the window.
Prior to the race, Jorge Martin (Ducati) had an accident and was made to start from the pit-lane, from 15th slot on the grid.
Once the lights turned green it was all go – Miller and Miguel Oliveira (KTM) managed to get past Quartararo on the straight. Knowing they had to make a break for it and disrupt Fabio’s rhythm.
All riders were so close together, quickly creating battles between: Maverick Vinales (Yamaha) and Brad Binder (KTM). Miller and Quartararo. Joan Mir (Suzuki) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia).
Mir got a fantastic start and went from tenth to fourth by turn seven, lap one.
All within the first three laps Quartararo and Miller tussled for second place but Quartararo came out worse and made a mistake causing the other riders to take full advantage, pushing him down to fifth. Mir passed Espargaro. Oliveira got fastest lap. Zarco passed Quartararo. Bagnaia then took fastest lap. Quartararo re-took fourth position back from Zarco and Binder went into the rear of Vinales – both riders remained on the track and un-hurt and finally fastest lap went back to Oliveira.
Quartararo soon gained his composure back and started to hunt down the riders in front. He passed A. Espargaro and Mir was next on the radar. On the same lap, Pol Espargaro (Honda) crashed out of the race, turn 5, lap 5.
All the riders knew they had to conserve their tyres as much as possible but it was hard to think this was in the fore-front of their minds as all top 6 racers (bar Oliveira) were constantly battling for positions. By lap 7, Quartararo re-gained second place, managed to get fastest lap in the process and was soon hot-on-the-heels of the KTM.
Meanwhile, Danilo Petrucci (KTM) crashed turn 9.
Riding well was Marc Marquez, with 17 laps left in 7th position chasing A. Espargaro and Zarco down. But then disaster struck and he crashed out (for the third time in a row) on the infamous turn 10. With Pol, his team-mate already out, neither factory Honda riders gained any points at their home race.
It went from bad to worse for Honda, with Takaaki Nakagami (Honda) receiving a long lap penalty for taking a shortcut through turns one and two. Alex Marquez (Honda) would take the best finish result for the manufacturer in 11th.
With 15 laps to the chequered flag Oliveira still led Quartararo, Mir, Miller and Zarco.
The next local boy to have a DNF was A. Espargaro, same turn as Marquez a few laps earlier.
Meanwhile at the front of the pack positions were being swapped again. Quartararo passed Oliveira on turn 5, half-way through the race. But the Portuguese rider had other plans and soon re-took the lead. Zarco passed Miller for fourth and Miller and Mir had a mini battle which saw Miller win.
Turn 10 soon took out yet another rider, this time it was the nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) who took to the dirt, with 8 laps until the end.
Iker Lecuona (KTM) then tumbled, turn 13, lap 18.
Six laps until the race finish gapping had started to appear between the racers. Oliveira and Quartararo were out on their own in 1st and 2nd. Zarco, Miller, Mir and Vinales were in another group fighting for the last podium position.
The number 88 (Oliveira) started to pull away from 20 (Quartararo) and Zarco was soon on his rear. Lap 22 Zarco passed his fellow Frenchman on the start-finish straight. Moments later Fabio lost the front of his bike a-little and he went off track but rejoined in-front of Miller. Slotting into third.
Then a very unusual thing happened, Quartararo’s leathers were suddenly open and he had pulled out his chest protector. Both things had become a safety issue but the race officials did not bring out a black flag for the rider. Instead he was allowed to carry on racing. The rules clearly state that “…equipment must be worn, correctly fastened, at all times during on-track activity”. This has caused controversy already. When asked at the end of the race Fabio was hesitant to give an explanation and said that enquiries were already being held on the matter and that the incident wasn’t his fault.
However, on the last lap he received a three-second penalty for a different rule-break – a shortcut on turns one and two, just like Nakagami earlier on in the race. Meaning that his position in third was given to Miller.
Oliveira went on to win his third ever race in Moto GP, from Zarco and Miller.
As there were only 15 riders to finish the race, everyone got at least one point towards their championship positions.
Sachsenring (Germany) is next on the calendar – Sunday 20th June – Marc Marquez has never been beaten there. Will we see a miraculous win from the Spaniard or will there be a new King of the track?
Wishing all the best to Alex Rins and Suzi Perry in their recovery.
(Featured image: Celebrating with the fans – Courtesy of Moto GP)
What a difference two weekends make! Not very far away from the LeMans track there wasn’t a rain cloud in sight this weekend at the Mugello circuit.
During the qualifying session, the top 5 riders were so close, each within a shout of taking first place but it was Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) who took his fourth consecutive pole of the season from Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati), Johann Zarco (Ducati), Aleix Espagaro (Aprilia) and Jack Miller (Ducati) in fifth place. Upon being interviewed Fabio said that it was “…the best lap I have ever done…”.
Meanwhile Marc Marquez (Honda), who was struggling, used the qualifying session as a tester and only managed to gain eleventh on the grid.
The magic of Mugello was subdued this weekend with a very sombre cloud, following on from the news of Moto 3 rider Jason Dupasquier, who sadly passed away from injuries sustained during the qualifying session on Saturday. Every rider and fan was saddened to hear of his passing and it was another reminder of just how dangerous this sport, that we love, can be.
A minutes silence was held in his honour prior to the race.
From the very start drama reigned, as the riders were finishing their warm-up lap and lining up on the grid Enea Bastianini (Ducati) ran into the back of Zarco, who was slowing down ready to get into position. After this freak accident, Bastianini was unhurt but was unable to start the race, with no start delay announced. Zarco had minor damage to the back of his Ducati and was able to continue.
For the first time as well this year, Quartararo’s Yamaha had the holeshot device installed, which Ducati first demonstrated in 2019. It is designed to mechanically lower the rear of the bike to reduce wheelieing off the line and improve acceleration at the start of a race. It seemed to do the trick as Quartararo got a great start with 23 laps to go, however it was Bagnaia that took the lead, at his home Grand Prix, from Quartararo and Miguel Oliveira (KTM).
A. Espargaro, starting in fourth place had a terrible start and managed to drop down five places.
Lap two saw the weekend go from bad to worse for Marc Marquez as he crashed out on turn three, after trying to overtake Brad Binder (KTM), causing Brad’s airbag to deploy which meant he had to race the next couple of laps with it inflated. It also caused Franko Morbidelli (Yamaha) to have to take evasive action to miss Marquez’s Honda, seeing him travel into the gravel, luckily both he and Binder were able to carry on racing.
Moments later on turn nine, Bagnaia, one of the home heroes, also crashed from the lead, after touching the white line at the edge of the track. (The white lines are notorious for being painted slippery edges that can cause riders to slip out of a race). This mistake granted Fabio the lead.
First place wasn’t Quartararo’s for long as the Ducati power of Zarco quickly took the lead on the straight and gained him the fastest lap.
A mini battle broke out between the two Frenchmen and soon on lap three El Diablo regained first.
They weren’t the only pair vying for positions though as Takaaki Nakagami (Honda) and Michele Pirro (Ducati) fought for 9th place and the two Suzuki’s (Joan Mir and Alex Rins) tussled for 5th.
The Suzuki riders were also hot-on-the-heels, and gaining on last weekend’s winner, Miller – who had managed to make-up one place since the start in 4th.
The battle at the front fought on between the Yamaha and the Ducati, neither one of the racers wanting to give in. All too quickly though Quartararo managed to gain a slight lead on lap 4, which was just enough for Zarco not to be able to fight back.
Gapping started to appear on lap 5, with Quartararo and Zarco in the first group, Oliveira on his own and Miller, Rins and Mir in a battling group.
With the first rule of Motorsport – beat your teammate – ringing in their ears, the reigning World Champion – Mir and his teammate Rins continued to fight for fifth and sixth. With Miller holding and defending his position but a small mistake which took him slightly wide, on the last corner of lap 8, saw Rins go past. The straight was the Ducati’s time to shine and regained the place back with ease. Rins was still hanging on though and passed Miller again, later on the same lap Mir went through on Miller and Binder followed, leaving Jack back in 7th.
All the excitement happening behind him – Quartararo extended his lead – 1.792 seconds from Zarco then became 2.201 seconds by lap 10. Arm pump no longer an issue for the young Frenchman and the pressure he admitted he felt last year now in the past, he began to show just how metronomic his laps could be.
Oliveira had condensed the gap between himself and Zarco and had managed to pass him on lap 16. A 4.128 second gap between him and Quartararo however seemed more of an impossible catch. The Ducati power wasn’t enough and the KTM soon pulled away. Leaving Zarco in the clutches of Mir, who soon was able to pass him too.
It was quickly Rins’s turn to go past Zarco with 6 laps to go, taking fourth place. However, whilst trail-breaking into a corner on worn tyres, Rins had his fourth DNF in a row and crashed out, letting Zarco re-gain the position.
On lap 21, it was unfortunately, Honda’s top rider – Nakagami’s turn to also crash out of the race.
But, it was Fabio Quartararo who took the chequered flag for the third time this year and he dedicated his win to the young Dupasquier.
There was controversy with who was second and third on the podium though. Oliveira crossed the line in second and Mir in third. But, Oliveira was given a penalty and had to give a place away for exceeding track limits meaning Mir got second. Minutes later, it became apparent that Mir had the exact same penalty. The decision was made to let them both keep their original results.
Top 10 race results:
It is worth noting that this is Valentino Rossi’s (Yamaha) first top 10 finish in 2021.
Top 5 championship standings:
Who will be victorious next round in Spain? We haven’t got long to find out.
Thoughts and prayers go out to Jason Dupasquier’s family and friends.
Ever changing track conditions at Le Mans caused for some spectacular qualifying. For a few moments it looked as if Marc Marquez (Honda) was going to grab his first pole since 2019! But local boy – Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) had other ideas and snatched it away. Leading from Maverick Vinales (Yamaha) and Jack Miller (Ducati) on the front row. Marquez started 6th place on the grid.
Uncharacteristically, the championship leader – Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) qualified low down the grid in 16th place.
Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha), looked in good form and had a flying lap, which would have taken him to front row, but an almost high-side in the last corner, removed those hopes. He slotted into 9th place.
The unpredictable track conditions had meant that Sunday’s race had been declared a flag-to-flag race. The first one in four years – meaning some of the riders had never experienced this before.
This was going to be interesting:
Le Mans had it all – rain, sun, bike swaps, crashes, penalties! As the drama unfolded in-front of us, one thing was for sure – Miller gave yet another ‘Thriller’ race!
As the riders lined up on the grid, the dark grey clouds loomed overhead. Weather forecasts predicted the rain wouldn’t emerge during the race. Just in-case though it had been declared a flag-to-flag event, meaning the riders had their spare bikes ready with wet tyres on, should the rain interfere with the proceedings.
Miller got a lighting start and led the pack into lap one, from Vinales and Quartararo. But it was Pol Espargaro (Aprilia), that had a ‘moment’, rejoining in the middle of team-mates Rossi and Frankie Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha), Morbidelli had to take evasive action, leaving him holding his knee in the gravel. Already having hurt it during a freak pit-lane accident in qualifying. (He was able to later rejoin, but finished outside the points).
Vinales soon took first and started to slowly break-away. Were we seeing Maverick finally not letting the weather conditions mess with his head? M. Marquez was fighting for 4th place with Alex Rins (Suzuki) and Takaaki Nakagami (Honda)
All to quickly though, bustling started to happen in the pit lane, as the pit crews started to get the second bikes ready for the inevitable change over. Marshals were waving the red and white flags track-side and the riders now had the option to come in and switch bikes. The rain had come earlier than expected!
Quartararo took full advantage to the change of weather conditions and swept through to first place. Vinales, sadly couldn’t help but react negatively to the wet weather and immediately went backwards.
Jack wasn’t prepared to just let Fabio have first place though and soon they were battling for first.
The rain continued to pour, getting heavier by the second. Miller went into the gravel but saved himself and with 23 laps to go he and all the riders decided to enter the pit lane to swap their bikes. M. Marquez made a swift exit from pit lane securing first place. The reigning champion Joan Mir (Suzuki) however, accidently fell upon entering the pit lane.
Then turn four, saw his team-mate Alex crash. Both Suzuki’s were having a race they would want to forget.
Then seemingly disaster for the Ducati boys! Both Bagnaia and Miller got a double long-lap penalty for exceeding pit-lane speed limits. The speed limit is 60km/h but both were recorded as over it.
With Miller in third place, being led by Quartararo and Marquez, he didn’t want to give up any places, but he took his first long-lap the next lap (lap 9) and then his second on lap 10. Getting them out the way with quick.
Marc Marquez looked like his old self again and even pulled away from Fabio leading with 1.380 seconds and then by 1.973 seconds. He had said that these weather conditions could fall into his hands on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Rins had managed to return to the race with his second bike.
All hearts leapt in unison though as on lap 8, Marquez took a high-side from first position, on the final corner! Launching himself from his bike and rolling through the gravel. He managed to also re-join the race (using the same bike, albeit missing some of its wings).
With Miller taking his second penalty, Quartararo set about extending his lead. Little did he know that he too had collected a penalty. Never having raced a flag-to-flag race he had gone into the pit-lane to swap over his Yamaha’s just to ride into Vinales’s pit box. This was seen as a safety risk which meant he too had to take a long-lap soon. He decided to take it lap 12.
Cutting quickly through the pack, aware that this was his best chance at getting any points this race, Marquez was now the fastest man on track. Ignoring his pain and the rain.
An issue with Lorenzo Savadori’s Aprilia saw him retire from the race. On the same lap Miguel Oliveira (KTM) slid off on the nefarious turn 3. It soon took Rins as well, now his second time seeing the gravel during the race.
Meanwhile Marquez was still slicing through his competitors and with 13 laps to go was in 15th place. His younger brother Alex Marquez (Honda), it is worth noting, was having a brilliant race, from 19th on the grid to 5th by lap 15. By lap 17 M. Marquez had clawed back to 12th place.
Nakagami had his position taken away from him by one of the local boys – Zarco, who was picking up speed – quick. He was now in 3rd place with fellow country-man Quartararo in his sights and the leader – Miller not far away either. Could Le Mans finally have a French winner?
With 11 laps until the end, Aleix Espargaro’s Aprilia malfunctioned, leaving the team with DNF’s for both bikes.
Conditions changed again – the track had dried up and the rain ceased. All riders were on their second bike with wet tyres. They could return to the pits again and swap a second time for slick tyres but none of them wanted to be the first to juggle with fate.
Then absolute heartbreak – Marc Marquez crashed out again – turn 6, lap 18, from 11th place. This time he was unable to pick the bike up and return.
Miller had a 5.475 second lead over Quartararo, who had a 3.763 second gap to Zarco. But this was decreasing quick! Zarco had both medium wet tyres, where Miller and Quartararo had one soft and one medium tyre each. With the track getting drier each lap, the gap between the two Frenchmen rapidly shrunk. On lap 21 of 27 the gap was 0.696 seconds.
Johann passed Fabio with relative ease with 6 laps to go. Could he catch Miller?
Last lap – the track was completely dry – the riders were all still on wet tyres – there were two Frenchmen hunting down the Australian in first. But it was a Thriller performance from Miller who was in complete control, taking back-to-back victories! His first ever time doing this in the premier class and only his 3rd ever win in Moto GP. He is the first Australian to win back-to-back races since Stoner (Ducati) in 2012.
It was like a win for Fabio (who had never finished on the podium in wet conditions before) and Johann who rounded off the podium in France.
Top 10 race results:
It was a rollercoaster ride for Miller who said “…they’re gonna red flag this for sure…” aren’t we all glad that they didn’t?
Mugello (30th May) is the next round of the championship and is notably a Ducati track. Can the Dukes keep up this dominating pace? Or will Yamaha fight back and claim the top spot once more?
Let’s make one thing clear. There is no joy in seeing one of the all time greats of this sport struggle in the twilight of their career.
It doesn’t matter which sport – be it Michael Schumacher being increasingly error-strewn in his years with Mercedes in Formula 1, Chris Froome being regularly ‘spat out the back’ of the peloton up a mountain pass or Alastair Cook being haplessly bowled out again. There is no joy seeing any top level sportsman struggle, especially when we know what they had been in their prime.
Valentino Rossi is no exception. The raw statistics read as follows: Rossi last stepped onto the podium at the American Grand Prix in 2019. His most recent win was at the Dutch TT in 2017. You have to go way back to 2009 for the last of his 9 world championships.
It is these raw stats which critics of Rossi – and increasingly a number of his fans – are pointing to as justification for him to retire. Furthermore, they claim that by continuing to race, Rossi is at risk of damaging his legacy. At face value, they have a point.
Nobody, not even the Doctor himself, would deny that his prime years as a racer are well and truly behind him. Perhaps no clearer example of this simple yet sad fact can be found than at the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto:
Five years ago, in 2016, Rossi produced a racing masterclass on a scorching afternoon leaving his most bitter rival Jorge Lorenzo, and heir to his throne Marc Marquez to eat the dust. In truth the whole weekend had been a true demonstration of what Rossi could do. Fast throughout Friday practice and pole position duly followed on Saturday. As other riders struggled with the old worn-out tarmac causing havoc with tyre grip, Rossi simply glided away from the field with startling ease. Even the most hardcore Lorenzo fans were applauding Rossi by the time the chequered flag waved. On his day, very few – quite often no one – could touch him.
Fast forward to last weekend at the same venue, and it is a very different picture. Struggling for any kind of pace throughout practice and qualifying, Rossi spent the entirety of Sunday’s race floundering outside the points scoring places.
Lacking in engine power and tyre grip, it was truly a disastrous weekend. Painful for us to watch – undeniably much more so for Valentino himself. Painful enough for the Dorna cameras to largely ignore Rossi during the race. When was the last time that happened?
Everyone knew that 2021 would be challenging, having moved to a satellite team and without full-factory support. However, nobody envisaged what an ordeal the opening four rounds of the season would be. Perhaps we should have all taken his pre-season statement of “As long as I’m enjoying myself, I’ll continue to race” as a cautionary warning for what was coming.
His results tally from the opening four rounds make for grim reading: P12, P16, DNF and P17. Of the many words Rossi may use to describe his season so far, it’s a safe bet to assume ‘enjoyable’ is not one of them.
So with that in mind, why not just call it a day? After all, a man with 115 grand prix victories has nothing left to prove or gain surely?
It is very easy to sit here some 1600 miles away from Jerez and say things along the lines of: “He’s tarnishing his own legacy” or “He’s blocking a seat for a more deserving rider” etc. We can all see the struggle Rossi is facing. To that extent, it doesn’t matter a jot whether you would class yourself as among his legions of fans or in the ‘anyone but Rossi’ camp. Everyone who follows MotoGP is to-an-extent living this struggle with him.
Rossi will not add to his tally of 9 world championship titles. It is also increasingly unlikely that he will taste the victory champagne again. He is not the force he once was – yet still this doesn’t diminish his legacy. How? Simply, look up and down the starting grids of the premier class, Moto2 and Moto3.
The world championships are full of young, fast and extremely capable Italian riders who have all come through the VR|46 academy. The fruits of a decade-long project are clear to see. Rossi has always known this day would come. Dismayed at the time by a distinct lack of Italian talent, Rossi commissioned his famous ‘ranch’ flat track circuit, and recruited a dozen of the best young Italian riders. His objective: Develop the next generation of Italian grand prix winners – has not faltered. Roman Fenati, Niccolo Bulega, Francesco Bagnaia, Franco Morbidelli, Enea Bastianini, Lorenzo Baldassarri, Luca Marini, Marco Bezzecchi etc have all become grand prix winners because of the academy.
So whilst Rossi’s own star may be fading now, he has ensured the way has been paved for the next Italian champion. Bagnaia is already on a full factory Ducati machine, and it seems likely that Morbidelli will move up to the factory Yamaha team sooner rather than later. The latter’s stock is already rocketing by showing how competitive he is when effectively handicapped on a two-year old bike.
Rossi has earned the right to decide by himself when it will be time to draw the curtain on his racing career. The academy is doing everything it was founded to do. Morbidelli has already secured himself a world title in Moto2, and Bagnaia currently holds the lead in the MotoGP championship.
With each season bringing new riders through the doors, Rossi and his team develop yet more would-be world champions and grand prix winners – To that end, his current race results do not really matter.
Rest assured that the legacy of Valentino Rossi will endure.
Everything seemed to be carrying on from the previous race weekend for Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha), who managed to gain another pole, this time at Jerez, from his old teammate Franco Morbidelli (Yamaha) who claimed a solid second and Jack Miller (Ducati) clinching third.
During the qualifying Marc Marquez (Honda) however had another big accident on turn 7, ending up in the air barrier at the side of the track, coming out of it seemingly unscathed with a bruised leg and neck. He was cleared to race for Sunday, starting on the grid in 14th place.
Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) lead the second row alongside Taka Nakagami (Honda) and Johann Zarco (Honda) taking sixth.
Jerez Moto GP Race:
The Bologna Bullets take first and second in Spain, in the fourth round of the 2021 season.
It is a track not known to favour the Ducati’s, but from the start Miller went straight into the lead, from Morbidelli and teammate Bagnaia. Quartararo went backwards into fourth. But it was Joan Mir (Suzuki) who shot up four places into sixth position. Unfortunately, Alex Marquez (Honda) made a quick exit from his weekend, falling on lap one.
Lap two, turn two, Brad Binder (KTM) found himself in the gravel, but he was soon back on his bike and back in the race.
Taking fastest lap – Quartararo quickly took third place from Bagnaia.
Making it twice in a row for Alex Rins (Suzuki), he made a swift exit on lap three, sliding off the track.
With 22 laps until the chequered flag, Quartararo forced his way into second place and started to hunt down Miller, who couldn’t seem to use the Ducati power to its full advantage and hadn’t managed to break enough away.
Down in ninth place, Zarco had great race pace and took fastest lap from Quartararo.
Fabio took prime position to begin lap 5. The Ducati tried to take it back on the straight but it wasn’t quite enough and slowly had to watch as the number 20 steadily pulled away, quickly taking back fastest lap, getting into his rhythm and pulling further and further from the Australian.
All the top six riders had picked medium front and rear tyres, creating an equal battlefield out on the track, but it was Bagnaia who seemed faster than Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) in fourth place and on lap 9, took the position from him.
Lap 10, on the flat turn two, Enea Bastianini went into first gear, let the brake off, creating the front to fold and he fell. Meanwhile, the front two riders focused on pulling away from third and fourth. Bagnaia was doing faster laps than fellow countryman Morbidelli, this allowed him to take third place with 11 laps till the end.
Brad Binder crashed for the second time, on turn 13, but this time was unable to carry on.
With 12 laps till the finish line Quartararo led Miller by 1.434 seconds. Miller to Morbidelli gap was 2.705 seconds. On lap 15, the gap suddenly dropped to 0.438 seconds between Quartararo and Miller. Then to 0.205 seconds. Then 0.063 seconds. Miller took the lead, passing Quartararo on turn 1, lap 16. The Australian started to immediately pull away from the Frenchman. With no seemingly physical problems, Quartararo fell towards the clutches of Italian rider – Bagnaia.
The gapping that had started to be created then turned back into a concertina effect, as the group closed up. It wasn’t soon until Bagnaia was on Quartararo’s rear and soon passed him with 8 laps to go. Morbidelli was next in line to pass the Frenchman on lap 18. Claiming the last podium place.
It was now only a matter of time before the rest of the pack claimed their positions from Quartararo. Who definitely seemed to have a problem, some speculating that he may be suffering from arm pump.
Nakagami was fighting with Aleix Espargaro for 6th place and took it alongside 5th from Quartararo, almost in the same pass. Then it was Mir’s turn to to go up to 5th place from Quartararo and Espargaro. Vinales then took no mercy on his teammate and also claimed a position on lap 19.
Things went from bad to worse for Fabio as another two riders went past him on lap 20. Going from first to tenth in just two laps.
Meanwhile the Dukes eeked further away at the front. The normal racing at Jerez was being thrown-out-the-window, with the Ducati’s finally going good at the track.
Pol Espargaro was the next rider to pass Quartararo, this time for 10th place.
Morbidelli was faster than Bagnaia and was giving it everything he had to try and pass him for second place. Riding on the 2019 Petronas Yamaha however, meant Morbidelli can’t always use his full potential.
Then it was Oliveira’s turn to pass Quartararo to take 12th place, which also saw Fabio’s championship lead taken from him and given to Bagnaia. Another pass from Bradl gave further points to Bagnaia for the championship lead and with 2 laps to go Quartararo had fallen to 13th place, staying just inside the points.
But, it was a masterclass performance from Jack Miller, who gave us a ‘Thriller’ victory. His first in the dry for Moto GP. Claiming “…the last 7/8 laps were the longest of…” his career. Audiences will now be hoping this won’t be his only win of the season. The last time Miller was on the top step of the podium was at the Dutch GP in 2016. This wasn’t the only surprise for Ducati for the weekend though, as Bagnaia stepped onto the second podium spot.
Third place went to Morbidelli who “…gave more than the maximum…” and “… risked a lot and finally…was rewarded with the podium…”.
A brilliant fourth place went to Nakagami (who equalled his best race finish in Moto GP), with Mir in 5th, A. Espargaro in 6th, Vinales 7th, Zarco 8th, another impressive ride for Marquez, who finished 9th and 10th place went to P. Espargaro.
Le Mans (next race) is one of the next three race tracks which are typically good for the Ducati’s. Will we see another Ducati whitewash? Or will someone else step up to the plate?
Thank you to everyone who has taken part in the Social Media black-out this weekend, together we can #DrawTheLine and #StopTheHate.
Local boy Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM – 88), took a tumble during the qualifying, which caused the yellow flags to be waved. During this time Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati – 63) was on his fastest lap and had also taken the lap record but it was taken away from him due to Oliveira’s accident, although the yellow flag was out of his peripheral vision at the time, rules state that his lap be removed.
Bagnaia was not the only rider to be unhappy with the qualifying results. Maverick Vinales (Yamaha -12) started in 12th, one position behind Bagnaia. Due to exceeding track limits by having both tyres on the green, although this was only by mere millimetres.
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda – 93), returned this weekend after his explosive crash in July at the start of the 2020 season. He seemed to take a tow from Alex Rins (Suzuki – 42) which gave Marquez a brief third place on the grid. But, his time was not enough to keep him there and he started in 6th place.
Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha – 20) – took pole, from Alex Rins (Suzuki – 42) and Johann Zarco (Pramac Ducati – 5) who took up the front row. A surprise 8th place for Luca Marini (Sky VR46 10) with reigning Champion Joan Mir (Suzuki – 36) in 9th and regardless of his crash Oliveira rounded up 10th place.
Rookie Jorge Martin had a massive crash which unfortunately resulted in him not being able to race on Sunday.
Portuguese Moto GP race:
Portimao, with it’s undulating bends and tight corners proved to be the place for Frenchman Quartararo to take back-to-back victories, in the third round of the championship.
Starting from pole, it seemed it was going to be a straight-forward race for Fabio, but he immediately went backwards to 5th place. Letting Zarco claim 1st into the first corner, leading from Rins and astonishingly Marc Marquez progressed to 3rd place. Mir also went up 6 places from the grid as did Brad Binder gaining 9th place for KTM.
With track temperatures now at 41 degrees the next 25 laps were sure to be sensational.
Quartararo was quick to put in a fastest lap, hoping to gain places back as soon as possible, taking 4th place from Miller. Only to have the fastest lap soon to be taken by Aleix Espargaro on lap three.
The battle was heating up already, with riders trying to gain ground with Quartararo soon taking 3rd place on lap 4 and Rins who was hot on the heels of leader Zarco. The Suzuki rider soon secured 1st place but the Ducati power proved too much and on the straight it was taken back.
Lap five saw a mechanical failure for Pol Espargaro (Honda – 41) and sadly he made an early retirement from the race. Rins once again battled for first place, this time brakes won over power and he was able to hold onto it, while Quartararo took 2nd.
Braking too hard however, caused Miller to crash out of the race on turn 3, lap 6.
Sadly for local boy Oliveira turn 14 also saw him crash out on lap 7, but he managed to get back on the bike to finish the race in 16th place.
Hard rear tyres seemed to be the right call for the riders as Bagnaia passed Marquez for 8th place, making his way through the pack and Quartararo was hunting down Rins for 1st. Unfortunately, Yamaha rider Vinales could not do the same and was outside the top 15.
Into the first corner of lap 9, Fabio decided to take 1st place and pushed hard to break-away from Rins. Getting faster and faster sections the further into the laps he went. A brilliant ride from Binder saw him progress from 15th on the grid to 6th place by lap 11. With the two Marquez brothers claiming 9th and 10th.
Lap 13 saw Bagnaia take fastest lap (1:39:728), in 6th place. Closing down on Morbidelli. All the while Rins was putting pressure on Quartararo and trying to catch up enough to pass him.
Quartararo responded with another fastest lap (1:39:680).
The battle between the Frenchman and the Spaniard continued to escalate and Rins regained fastest lap (1:39:598) on lap 15.
A bump in the circuit caused Rossi to crash out with 11 laps to the finish and track limit warnings were handed out to Morbidelli and Vinales, the latter had already fell fowl to them in qualifying.
Still fighting for 1st place, Rins took fastest lap yet again twice in a row and was pushing himself to his limits trying to catch Quartararo. Sadly, it proved to be to much for the number 41 and he crashed out with only 7 laps to the end. Zarco gained 2nd place with Bagnaia 3rd and Mir 4th. Creating the four riders to break away from the rest of the pack.
Moments after Bagnaia took 2nd place from Zarco, the Frenchman fell, seemingly from another bump in the circuit. Quartararo now lead Bagnaia and reigning champion Mir.
Quartararo seemed to be able to handle the hard rear tyre and use it to his advantage. Slowly gaining a 5.276 second lead ahead of the other two riders who followed behind.
This gap proved to be too big for any of the riders to close down and Quartararo took a very clean victory, with no mistakes, at Portimao. Mir looked to have one last attack in him for 2nd, but Bagnaia gave nothing away. They claimed the last two places on the podium. Morbidelli, with a return to form, just missed out and finished 4th.
Marc Marquez made a herculean effort, even having to change his riding style for race-day and finished a respectable 7th place, remaining ahead of his brother.
Nakagami, who looked like he wasn’t going to be able to even start the race, due to injuries sustained in practice sessions managed to finish the race completing the top 10 riders.
Incredibly six different manufactures finished in the top 7 positions.
The championship standings:
Quartararo (61 points)
Bagnaia (46 points)
Vinales (41 points)
Zarco (40 points)
Mir (38 points)
With two weeks to wait until the fourth round of the championship, will it be enough time for Marc Marquez to heal any further or has this race halted his healing progress? Will it be a third race win in a row for the number 20? Or will we see a new race winner in 2021?
Happy Birthday to Fabio Quartararo for Tuesday 20th April.
Round two under the Qatar lights found some riders floundering and some soaring. If it was thought to be a repeat of last weekend then audiences were in for a shock.
The qualifying had the biggest surprise which came from the rookie, Jorge Martin who took pole! With a 1.53.106 second lap, snatching it from Vinales, who was confident he had done enough at the flag. Next position went to Martin’s team-mate and Vinales ended up 3rd to round off the front row. The Suzuki’s still seemed to have issues with qualifying and ended up in 8th and 9th. Rossi made changes to his bike which turned out to hinder his chances at getting another 4th in qualifying this time and ended up 21st on the grid.
All riders started Sunday on both rear and front soft tyres again, with the exception of Oliveira, Binder, Lecuona and Petrucci. Perhaps they had thought a different strategy may help them in the closing section of the race. Once again, the wind was blowing and causing sand to go across the track, meaning the tyres would degrade quicker.
The two front Ducati’s got a flying start, with Martin leading Zarco but it was Vinales that went backwards as Aleix Espargaro came through and took 3rd place from the Spaniard, a very surprising Oliveira, who was 12th on the grid, shot into 4th . The next 22 laps were sure to be exciting!
By lap three, Rins had already made the fastest lap, eager to make it to the front early on, now in 3rd place, he started putting pressure on Zarco.
Lap four was Bagnaia’s turn to take fastest lap. But it was the Suzuki’s that were looking menacing as Mir came through to 5th place and Rins took 2nd from Zarco. However, the Ducati took back the position on the straight.
Meanwhile the factory Yamahas were sticking to their plan, which was to conserve tyres and were in 9th and 10th place.
With 17 laps to go Martin was still leading, in only his second Moto GP race, from Rins and Zarco.
Performing well in the flowing corners, the Suzuki was putting pressure on the rookie, but the straight, once again was the time for Zarco to pounce, re-gaining 2nd.
Trying to hunt down Martin, Rins took back 2nd place from the Frenchman on turn 10 – lap 8. He knew he had to breakaway from Zarco before the straight. With 13 laps to go Oliveira started to go backwards, unfortunately, the tyre choice didn’t seem to be any better.
The two Petronas riders were struggling as well – not even in the top ten.
The top nine riders however, were starting to breakaway from the rest of the pack and were creating their own race. Martin still lead, now half-way through the 22 laps, whilst Vinales was bringing up the rear. The first six bikes were all four Ducati’s and the two Suzuki’s. Espargaro on the Aprilia, was the only bike not with it’s teammate, out in front of the two factory Yamaha’s.
Mir and Miller were battling for 5th place on lap 13, Mir touched Miller going underneath him to take the position. But, coming onto the straight Miller (43) went wide and and seemed to go straight into Mir, forcing him to go all the way back to 9th. There was an investigation from the stewards but both times were seen as racing incidents.
Things went from bad to worse for Alex Marquez who had a second DNF in a row as he crashed on lap 14.
However, things were looking good for Quartararo (20), who was moving through the front pack and was now 4th, behind the Ducati’s, with 8 laps till the end. Battling for the position alongside Rins, he knew he had to create a chance in order to get on the podium. His teammate was now in 7th with Mir still in 9th place. It seemed the Yamaha’s tactic was paying off.
With six laps till the end, 20 took 3rd place from 43, it was taken straight back on the start-finish line but a mistake going into the first corner from Miller meant Quartararo re-took 3rd once more. The battle for the podium was heating up.
The two Frenchmen then fought for 2nd on lap 18. Zarco tried to defend but Quartararo’s Yamaha had conserved tyres better and was stronger on the corners, meaning he was able to take 1st place as well on turn 14, leading into turn 15, from Martin. The rookie had shocked everyone by leading for most of the race. Martin wasn’t going to give his position away easily and on the straight the Ducati roared past the Yamaha. But, Quartararo re-gained first place soon after.
With four laps to go it was anyone’s call who would win. Quartararo now lead Martin, Zarco and Vinales.
Top Gun’ briefly took 3rd place from Zarco, which took Zarco out of the top three for the first time the whole race.
‘El Diablo’ started to pull away from the two satellite Ducati’s and with Vinales putting pressure on Zarco, Zarco decided he needed to try and make a pass on his teammate. Martin went defensive with two laps to go, not wanting to give away his position. Vinales couldn’t keep up with number 5 and Rins took 4th place from him into turn one on the last lap. The penultimate corner of the last lap was Zarco’s last shot at 2nd, after admitting in the post-race interview he was acting as a “… bodyguard for Martin…” he decided to over-take his team-mate to finish 2nd.
It was Quartararo that took the chequered flag, taking his fourth Moto GP victory alongside fellow Frenchman Zarco. The first time in 67 years that two Frenchmen have stood first and second on the podium in the premier class. Martin finished an impressive third to round off the podium. Fourth was Rins, fifth Vinales, sixth and seventh place were the factory Dukes and Mir managed to make up two places since the collision with Miller to finish seventh.
Zarco stood on the podium for the 50th time and now leads the championship with 40 points. Proving to be consistent with two second places in a row.
This thrilling battle was the closest Moto GP race in 73 years. Teams learnt from last weekend and everyone seemed far stronger.
There is now a two week gap until the next event, but the big news is Marc Marquez is said to be making a return in Portugal, which leads into the many European races. Will we see a fit, strong and hungry Marquez? Will the other riders be too far ahead of him? Or will we witness a masterclass performance?
Whatever the outcome, it is sure to be a thrilling ride.