Fabio returned to form this weekend, as the Petronas Yamaha SRT rider reclaimed the top spot of the podium, as well as the title lead.
The biggest take-away of the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya is what was witnessed on the very first lap. In a Ducati dilemma, former title leader Andrea Dovizioso was wiped out by Avintia’s Johann Zarco. Despite how it sounds, however, Zarco isn’t to blame. Ahead of the Frenchman was Factory Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci, who almost lost the front at Turn 2, only to miraculously avoid the low-side. Zarco, who bore witness to this error, reacted as best he could in what he expected to be a wipe-out. Unfortunately, Zarco became victim to his reactions, and his low-side resulted in the collection of Dovizioso. Dovi had led the championship by a single point and was making immense progress through the pack from his P17 grid position. This incident, however, now means that Dovizioso currently resides in 4th place in the title runnings, 24 points down from race winner Quartararo.
Starting from the middle of the front row and heading into Lap 1 in third position, Fabio Quartararo made light work of both Jack Miller and Valentino Rossi in the opening laps and began hunting his teammate in first place with just 19 laps to go. The small lead that Franco Morbidelli had on the Frenchman was soon diminished, the inevitable overtake occurring 3 laps later, taking P1 on the start/finish straight heading into Turn 1. It was nothing but smooth sailing from then on for the title leader, his only rival being his withering tyres. Despite this, Quartararo managed to make it to the line and once again leads the championship by 8 points.
Another heartbreak this afternoon came in the form of Valentino Rossi, as we once again the wait for his 200th Grand Prix podium. In what was considered as Rossi’s strongest charge in recent races, The Doctor had remained within podium contention throughout the race. However, a fast low-side at Turn 2 with only nine laps remaining sealed the Italian’s fate, along with the hopes of an all-Yamaha podium.
The Suzuki duo showed perfect performance today; with Joan Mir starting from 8th on the grid and Alex Rins from 13th, the pair made solid ground from Lap 1 and only improved from there. Both of the Suzuki men battled their way past the likes of Pol Espargaro, before closing the gap to Miller in fourth. After taking the Aussie, the pair looked ahead to Morbidelli’s podium spot. With Mir leading the charge, it was down to the final few laps before the 23-year-old overtook the Petronas SRT rider into Turn 1 – a move that was clearly a rider-favourite, Quartararo having made the same pass on Morbidelli earlier in the race. With Rins stealing the final podium place from Franco with just two laps-to-go, Suzuki found both riders on the podium for the first time in 13 years. A praiseworthy ride from both riders, as Mir now takes second in the championship, just 8 points below the top spot.
Catalunya appears to be a race to forget for Maverick Viñales; despite showing great pace all weekend, Sunday was once again not the Spaniard’s day. Despite starting in 5th, it was nothing but backwards from the get-go. Being in 16th by the second lap, Viñales spent the rest of the race clambering back into the top 10. Even with a bad race, Mack still resides in 3rd for the 2020 title and remains in contention.
Takaaki Nakagami was once again on form today, battling with the Pramac duo towards the end of the race, earning a valuable 7th place finish. Injured teammate Cal Crutchlow is to be commended also, finishing in a very admirable 10th, proving that it takes a lot to slow the Brit down.
We head to Le Mans in two weeks’ time for the SHARK Helmets Grand Prix de France, can Quartararo keep his crown?
Feature Photo: MotoGP.com