Petronas Yamaha rider Fabio Quartararo bagged his first victory in MotoGP as he crossed the chequered flag in the 2020 Spanish GP season-opener. The latest season finally kicked-off behind closed doors, and the first race was as scintillating as you would expect from the championship. Making a heroic run was Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez who suffered a nasty crash in the final stages. Yamaha's Maverick Vinales took the second spot on the podium after briefly leading the race making it a 1-2 finish on the M1, while Andrea Dovizioso of Ducati took the final spot. The 21-year-old Quartararo also became the first French rider in 21 years to win a MotoGP race. The last time a Frenchman took a win in the premier-class was Regis Laconi at Valencia in 1999.
Quartararo led the race from pole position, his second at the Jerez Circuit making no mistakes right down to the finish line. However, a third-placed Marquez had a dramatic start and was immediately gunning to take the top spot. The rider was engaged in a battle with Vinales for P2 on the opening lap and managed to pass the factory Yamaha rider at Turn 5. He was then eyeing the lead but lost the front on Lap 6 when he crashed for the first time through Turn 4. The reigning champion though pulled a brilliant save and rejoined the race at P16 almost at the back of the grid. Meanwhile, Vinales had passed Quartararo to take the lead.
Marquez was now looking at a podium finish and was quickly climbing the order. At the front, Quartararo was breathing down Vinales' neck as Jack Miller of Pramac Ducati started closing in. Vinales along with teammate Valentino Rossi had started the race on soft front tyres, and after the initial advantage, the tyre started to fade along with the Frenchman's pace. This allowed Quartararo to reclaim the top spot at the final corner of Lap 9 when Vinales ran wide after missing the brake mark. Marc Marquez was now up to P10 setting an incredible pace and seemed certain to finish on the podium.
The Petronas rider though wasn't ready to let this one go and made the most of his M1 to set himself apart from the rest of the pack. By the halfway mark, the Quartararo had a lead of over six seconds over Vinales before easing off in the final stages. As expected, Marquez was up to P3 with five laps to go and was once again behind Vinales to take P2. However, the worse happened on Lap 22 as the Repsol Honda rider lost his rear at Turn 3 and had a high-side crash pushing him straight into the gravel.
The incident left the eight-time world champion in a neck brace on a stretcher as he was rushed to the hospital, dropping all hopes of the rider making a miraculous comeback for the second time in the race. The rider will need a surgery having a fractured humerus, a medical update stated. This left Quartararo clear to take his maiden win in MotoGP, 4.603s clear off Vinales. This is also the first race win for a satellite Yamaha team.
Dovizioso had a low-key weekend but got a podium right at the very end when he passed Miller on the penultimate lap to take P3. Miller, on the other hand, fended off competition from Franco Morbidelli on the second Petronas Yamaha M1 and KTM's Pol Espargaro. Pramac Ducati's Francesco Bagnaia finished at P7 and Miguel Oliveira on the KTM at P8. Danilo Petrucci on the second works Ducati and Takaaki Nakagami on the LCR Honda bike rounded up the top 10. Nakagami was the sole LCR rider after Cal Crutchlow injured himself in a crash earlier today during the warm-up lap.
Astride on the Avintia Ducati for the first time, Johann Zarco finished his run at P11, while Alex Marquez made his premier-class debut with Repsol Honda with a 12th place finish in what was one of the most talked-about rider selections for the team. Brad Binder on the KTM, Tito Rabat on the Avintia Ducati and Bradley Smith on the Aprilia took the final points in the race.
The Spanish GP saw multiple crashes over the weekend that rendered a number of the riders out of contention. This included Suzuki's Joan Mir, Tech 3 KTM's Iker Lecuona and Aleix Espargaro of Aprilia. Valentino Rossi had to pull out of the race due to technical issues, while Crutchlow and Suzuki's Alex Rins did not have a race start after suffering serious injuries.