Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) was the victor in a GP Octo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini stunner as the nine-time World Champion went head-to-head with Petronas Yamaha SRT’s Fabio Quartararo, with the battle for the win going down to the last lap. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) completed the podium, 1.6 back from Marquez. Quartararo had a great run even until the last lap but was denied his maiden victory by Marquez who had to pass the Frenchman twice in the final lap.
Polish rider Maverick Vinales grabbed the lead off the line and for a bit, Petronas duo of Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli made it a Yamaha 1-2-3. Marquez started fifth and was up to fourth in the opening lap and set out after the leaders in the second lap.
Marquez dived under Viñales at Turn 10 on Lap 4 and locked his radar onto a rapid Yamaha at the front, with the third-place Yamaha of Viñales struggling to hold the pace. Further back, Espargaro was frustrating Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and second in the Championship Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) for P5.
Back up front, Quartararo had a 0.8 lead as Viñales slipped to 1.5 seconds back on Lap 6. Quartararo’s lead wouldn’t stay above half a second for long though, the Repsol Honda reeled the Petronas Yamaha in as the reigning World Champion and MotoGP rookie faced off. Unexpectedly, Viñales was now out of range. The gap to Marquez and Quartararo was nearly three seconds – what was going on for one of the weekend’s leading contenders?
In the battle for sixth, Rins was given a long lap penalty shortly after finally dispatching Espargaro’s KTM. But then, it didn’t matter for the Silverstone winner. The Suzuki man was down at Turn 4, while further up the road, Rossi was hitched onto the back of compatriot Morbidelli. At the front, Quartararo was faultless. There were no signs of the 20-year-old buckling under the pressure from a seven-time Champion as the gap between the two remained at 0.2.
The laps ticked by and still, there was no change. Marquez was fierce on the brakes coming into Turn 10, but ‘El Diablo’ was a demon at picking the bike up onto the straight. There was simply nothing splitting Quartararo and Marquez, with Viñales at this point now closing the gap ever so slightly to the leaders. Surely it was too late for the Spaniard?
Into the final 10 laps, still nothing. No hint of an overtake from Marquez, no signs of a mistake from Quartararo. Lap after lap, the consistency was frightening as Viñales got the gap down to two seconds. There was a sense of inevitability in the air as we headed onto the final five laps, but we’d have to wait until the last lap before Marquez pounced.
Marquez vs Quartararo: something we should start getting used to as Misano is just the first installment of what could become one of the all-time great rivalries. For now, Marquez has the bragging rights and the number 93 heads to his home Grand Prix at MotorLand Aragon with 93 points over his rivals. Can anyone beat Marquez on Spanish soil next week? Quartararo will be fired up to do just that.