PETRONAS face a bittersweet Sunday as Dovizioso takes title lead.
With Yamaha taking up the top 4 positions on the grid, we expected a good a race as any from the boys in blue, but no one could predict this one.
Franco Morbidelli made light work of the Misano Circuit, taking the holeshot at Turn 1 and not looking back. The Petronas rider showed top form throughout the weekend; only improving with each session followed by almost attaining pole position on Saturday, so it should not have come as a shock to watch the Italian strive even further, claiming the win that was so rightfully his from the get-go. It couldn’t have been a more fitting win at Morbido’s home race, winning by a 2.217-second lead.
One of the biggest revelations of the race was that of Fabio Quartararo; with such high expectations for the championship leader, no one predicted him to crash not only once, but twice in the 27-lap race. The crash shortly following his overtake on Viñales for 4th position devastated the Petronas garage as they watched the championship lead be wiped out at Turn 4. With the top 5 so close in the title points, it became anyone’s game with 20 laps to go. The new man to beat being Dovizioso, residing in 7th position on the track.
Poleman Viñales had an arguable race to forget, from a lacklustre start off the grid it seemed to be nothing but backwards for the Spaniard, resulting in a 6th place finish. His teammate, however, had a lot more on his plate. Having strong sessions across the weekend, with his notable P1 in the third Free Practice, Valentino Rossi looked set for a promising race from the second row of the grid. Having Misano be his only home race of the season so far, The Doctor certainly failed to disappoint.
Launching into second position from Turn 1, Rossi made second stick while managing to challenge Franco on multiple occasions in the early laps; even when the Petronas rider pulled ahead, Rossi’s efforts were valiant in maintaining his position – rarely riding out of place all race. However, Rossi’s campaign wasn’t without challenges, as Bagnaia, Rins and Mir soon knocked on his door. With the title race wide open, each of them was hungry for points.
Francesco Bagnaia and the Suzukis were level when it came to on-track potential today. However, the glaringly obvious disadvantage for Pecco was the continuous recovery of his fractured tibia, obtained during the Brno race weekend back in August. Regardless of this, the Pramac Ducati rider surged through the pack, making light work from 6th on the grid. With just 7 laps to go, the VR46 Prodigy finally made the overtake on mentor Rossi for second, making it stick despite the brief 4-way battle for the middle podium spot.
With Rins and Mir on top form, it wasn’t without surprise that they’d rise up for the final podium place on the last lap. While Alex Rins made multiple attempts on The Doctor, it was, in fact, Joan Mir who took the dives, overtaking both his teammate and the home legend to steal third in the final moments, depriving fans of an all-Italian podium in what can only be described as an insanely admirable race for the 23-year-old.
The valiant third place boosts Mir to 4th in the championship standings, while Dovizioso’s 7th place finish proved enough to take the lead ahead of Quartararo. While Petronas had a bittersweet end to the San Marino weekend, Fabio stands just 6 points down from first. However, with the top 7 covered by just 20 points, the 2020 season continues to be anyone’s season to claim. It’s a long road to Portugal’s finale yet.
Could we see a new champion by then, or will an old king return to the throne?
We stay in Italy next weekend, for the second round at the Misano World Circuit.
Feature Photo: Yamaha Racing