Jack Miller storms to the chequered flag in a Ducati 1-2, as Quartararo faces heartbreak.
In the 5 years since his victory in Assen, Miller has faced numerous questions and a lot of frustration while fighting to prove himself onboard the Ducati. Now, we can congratulate the Aussie on being a fully-fledged MotoGP Factory winner!
Claimed again and again to be 2021’s dark horse, it was finally time to shine once again on the top step of the podium in a very emotional celebration. Miller has proven to be a threat all weekend, every weekend this season, and Jerez was no exception.
Starting from 3rd on the grid, Miller stole the holeshot and simply cleared off, already forming a gap back to Franco Morbidelli by Lap 2. However, despite fumbling the start, poleman Fabio Quartararo soon recovered from P4 to threaten the lead, making light work of Morbidelli in second, and soon edging up to the Aussie in front.
It was with 22 laps still to go that the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP man took the lead, not with Miller attempting a reclaim on the straight, of course. As the Frenchman began his getaway, Miller kept a level head and kept Quartararo in his sights. As the duo broke away from the fight for third, Aleix Espargaro and Francesco Bagnaia both looked onwards at Morbidelli’s podium position.
As the fight for first settled for a handful of laps, Bagnaia made light work of Espargaro on Lap 9, taking 4thplace and setting his sights on the Petronas Yamaha SRT bike ahead. Meanwhile, Espargaro soon fell into the hands of LCR Honda Idemitsu’s Takaaki Nakagami, who’s successful weekend so far made for a good P5 battle during the race.
With 11 laps to go, Bagnaia finally took the final podium spot, after cleanly overtaking compatriot Morbidelli on the start / finish straight.
However, it wouldn’t be the 2021 season without just a little more drama; and this time, that came in the form of the man at the front. On Lap 15, Quartararo soon began to lose pace, drastically losing his 1.5 second advantage on Miller in the space of a single lap, and with 11 laps remaining, the man in red retook the lead and kept it for the remainder of the race.
Quartararo’s downfall was painful to watch, as the former title leader sank through the order, unable to hold on to a Top 10 position. Later discovering that the Frenchman suffered due to arm pump issues, Quartararo managed to cross the finish line within the points, finishing in 13th place.
In the midst of the fight for 4th, Quartararo’s brief interference allowed Nakagami to overtake both Aleix Espargaro and the falling Frenchman, while Suzuki ECSTAR’s Joan Mir also managed to swipe 6th from the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini rider, in a Turn 6 double whammy.
With Nakagami and Mir using Quartararo as a buffer, the pair were able to break away from Espargaro and continue their battle as a duo, with just 3 laps to go. Ultimately, Nakagami was able to fend off the champ to take a very deserving 4th place. The LCR Honda Idemitsu man seems to be yet another dark horse this year, following on from his 2020 form.
The Yamaha rider’s collapse allowed Morbidelli to claim the final podium spot, after a hard-fought race. With the Ducati Lenovo Team duo taking the team’s first 1-2 race result in three years, Pecco Bagnaia also takes the lead in the championship fight, just 2 points ahead of Quartararo.
Repsol Honda have had a rather humbling weekend; with both riders failing to qualify past Q1, the pair had to fight tooth and nail during the race, and walked away with two Top 10 results: Marc Marquez in 9th, and Pol Espargaro following behind in 10th.
Sunday proved harsh for multiple riders, not just the man in blue. Alex Marquez was very unfortunate to not make it past the opening lap, and had to watch the race from in the garage. Brad Binder crashed twice in the race, following a second fall after rejoining once before. Enea Bastianini once again worked his way up the order into an admirable P12, before losing the front at Turn 2. Alex Rins was the only crasher to finish the race, coming in 20th place.
With a multitude of ups and downs this weekend, if there is one thing to take away from this weekend, it’s that Jack Miller has well and truly earned his place on the MotoGP grid.
If you didn’t believe in the Aussie before, how about now?
We’ll see you in two weeks’ time, at the SHARK Grand Prix De France.
Feature Image: Gold and Goose