Wet San Marino MotoGP race. Decided once again on the last lap.
Sunshine greeted the fans and rider on Friday as the MotoGP practise sessions started.
Italian hero, Valentino Rossi was injured in an enduro ride near his home. He hit a large rock with the front wheel of his bike, put his leg down to stop coming off, and promptly broke his leg. The crowd was down a couple of thousand, maybe because of the weather and his absence.
Saturday was also kind to the riders and fans as qualifying began. It was a case of he who dares wins. Maverick Viñales took the pole after a to and fro qualifying session with things hotting up in the last few minutes. Marc Márquez was set to take pole when he slid off in front of the Valentino Rossi supporters stand, to their cheers. He got up and blew them a kiss!
MotoGP Qualifying Classification,
Wet Race day a crash fest!
Sunday the weather changed for the worse. The clouds appeared and heavy rain poured down. Free practise in the morning saw several riders hit the deck. The rain continued as the riders lined up for the race.
The constant rain left the circuit very wet and treacherous for the 22 riders.
The lights went out and Jorge Lorenzo shot into the lead. Looking more like the Lorenzo of old, he got up to four seconds in front with a succession of fastest laps until lap 7 when he slid off in the tricky conditions. Lorenzo with Marquez in second ahead of Dovizioso.
After a few laps, Marquez signalled to his pit crew with a wave of his leg. Was he in trouble? No, it was a sign to prepare his second bike with a dry set-up, but there was never any real chance of swapping bikes as the track remained predominantly wet throughout the 28-lap race.
When Lorenzo crashed on turn six from a comfortable lead, Danilo Petrucci the Pramac Ducati rider took over the lead on lap seven. He made a good start from fifth to take the early lead. Petrucci, worked his way up from eighth on the grid to fourth by the end of the third lap, passing struggling poleman Maverick Viñales. Two laps later, he took Dovizioso for third, and the following lap passed Marquez to move into second, now more than three seconds behind Lorenzo until he crashed.
Petrucci now in front, with a small lead ahead of Marquez and Dovizioso, which never was more than one second. Factory Ducati rider, Andrea Dovizioso, was riding with the new aerodynamic fairing on the GP17 after using the standard version in qualifying.
The top three broke clear of the rest of the field, with Maverick Viñales in fourth chased by Avintia Racing's Loris Baz, Aussie Jack Miller on the EG Marc VDS Honda and Factory Ducati test rider Michele Pirro.
Marquez shadowed Danilo Petrucci for much of the race, after early leader Jorge Lorenzo crashed out, before diving past the Italian Pramac rider, with an out-braking manoeuvre on the last lap on Danilo Petrucci into the first turn on the last of the 28 laps.
Dovizioso settled for third in the closing stages of the race, as Marquez upped the pressure on Petrucci - helped by a slide for the Italian rider with five laps to go. The gap between the leading pair was now just a couple of tenths with three to go and Marquez was able to push by heading into Turn 1 on the very last lap to deny Petrucci his first ever MotoGP win. The reigning world champion increased his lead to win by 1.1 seconds from Petrucci, with Dovizioso 11.7 seconds back in third.
At one point, it seemed like Dovizioso was going to challenge Petrucci and Marquez as he closed right in on the leading duo at the half-way point, but the Italian rider was unable to match their pace in the closing stages and he eased his pace to ensure finishing and a solitary third place 10.5 seconds behind Marquez and ahead of Yamahas Maverick Viñales. Ducatis test rider, Pirro rode a strong race to finish fifth behind Vinales, with Miller, Scott Redding on the second Pramac Ducati and Álex Rins, Factory Suzuki completing the top eight
Tech 3 Yamaha rider Johann Zarco had been on course for seventh, only to run out of fuel at the last corner. The Frenchman pushed his satellite Tech3 Yamaha down the start/finish straight and over the line, to come home in 15th place to the applause of the crowd, gaining another point to his total.
That promoted Britain's Pramac Ducati's Scott Redding to seventh, ahead of Suzuki novice Álex Rins and the second Tech 3 bike of Jonas Folger. Briton KTM rider, Bradley Smith got his best finish of this year in tenth, ahead of team mate, Pol Espargaró, it's the first time the Briton has beaten him this year. Spaniard, Aspar Ducati rider, Alvaro Bautista came 12th.
Britain's Cal Crutchlow, LCR Honda, was fifth early on, but crashed out, to finish 13th after remounting, one place ahead of the Factory Honda rider, Dani Pedrosa, who struggled with his tyres and dropped towards the rear of the pack early on. He was unable to keep a recovering Crutchlow behind him.
Frenchman, Loris Baz riding the Avintia Ducati, ran as high as sixth before crashing and remounting, only to crash again at turn 8, finishing a lapped 16th, ahead only of Czech, Karel Abraham, also Ducati mounted, who slid off on the first lap.
Britain's Aprilia's Sam Lowes terrible season continued. At one point, he held a place inside the top 10 before crashing out again, his fifth fall of the weekend. He must learn to stay on the bike. Team-mate Aleix Espargaró also didn't finish after taking a tumble.
Spaniard, Marc VDS Honda rider, Tito Rabat also slid off at Turn 6. Italian, Andrea Iannone's depressing season continued when he could no longer carry on riding, with a painful arm. Suspected arm pump. He retired from the back of the field. Avintia Ducati's Hector Barbera was another to fall in the bad conditions as he crashed out at Turn 16.
Current World Champion Marc Márquez took his fourth win of the year in the San Marino Grand Prix at Misano, from Danilo Petrucci, Pramac Ducati. Andrea Dovizioso finished third on the factory Ducati. Yamaha's sole rider, Maverick Viñales, started from pole, finished fourth.
This win means Marc Márquez now ties with Andrea Dovizioso, the MotoGP World Championship lead, on 199 points. Yamahas Maverick Viñales is 16 points behind in third, with injured Valentino Rossi staying fourth on 157 points, despite missing his home race. Pedrosa is one point behind Rossi in fifth.
Marc Márquez, the Factory Repsol Honda Team rider, was tempted to play it safe at Misano and just take the 20 points for coming second, but then another thought crossed his mind - the value of the five extra points on offer should the title go down to the wire.
After the disappointment of Silverstone and mindful of the impact a crash would have on his title chances, Marquez thought about collecting a safe 20 points for a safe second place, but the Repsol Honda rider soon changed his mind and decided to push for the victory.
Post race rider interviews
After the race Marc Márquez told us
"The race was amazing and you cannot imagine the tension and how focused [I was] and it was so difficult to keep the concentration because the race was so long.
"During the race the feeling was changing a little bit and at the start of the race I was struggling a little more. Then in the second part of the race I was OK but in the last part of the race is when I felt better.
"In one point I started to think about the championship and I say maybe second position is enough, but then I started to think more and I said I have the potential, I feel I will try because you never know - these five points you never know if you will miss or not in the last round in Valencia.
"During the race I was trying to follow Danilo and all the riders because after the warm-up crash, it was a good crash because if not, I think I would crash during the race. That crash gives me a warning and then I was just trying to follow Danilo very quiet - maybe sometimes I have a little bit more, but always trying to control and push in the points where I felt good.
"And then on the last lap I prepare really well. On the last three laps, already I had the possibility to overtake him, but then I say I don't want to fight with Danilo here in Misano. For that reason I overtake him and I pushed my 100 per-cent and for me, it was better to take the risk for one lap than to take the risk in the corners.
"In one point I started to think about the championship, but then I started to think more and I said have the potential, I will try".
He produced an amazing last lap to pull away from the Pramac Ducati rider, securing his fourth win of the season as he put the disappointment of his engine blow up at Silverstone behind him. Marquez says he ran the risk of criticm if his challenge for the win at Misano in the tricky conditions caused him to fall.
"Today I didn't feel confident because the track was so slippery it was so easy to do a mistake and when you see Moto2 and Moto3 race, you are losing confidence and after the warm-up crash.
"But I realise that I could miss these five points in Valencia so I tried, I pushed. It was a big risk of course and if I crashed people would write, 'he never changes blah blah, ' but it is my style and this style gives me five championships. I will keep pushing, but always trying to manage the risk.
"Before the race was so difficult after watching Moto2 and Moto3, because there were so many crashes for the top guys and you know you have to finish the race. I knew if I crashed and Dovi finished second or third, the Championship would be difficult. But you need to understand and manage that kind of pressure, which I tried to do and that was the best way. Now it's incredible. The Championship is incredible and you never know what will happen. After the race at Silverstone I was disappointed but it was important to come back strong and for that reason I took the risk, because normally at Misano I struggle a lot. Now we got to Aragon and I'll try to make it. Dovizioso and Ducati is strong at every circuit, and it will be tight. And Vinales is not very far off. "
Disappointed Second place man Danilo Petrucci said
"Very mixed feelings and for sure I am happy to be on the podium again in Italy, but I led the race for I don't know how many laps and I was quite scared because this morning we understood that the track was very slippery, especially in some corners.
"When I was in front after Jorge [Lorenzo] crashed, I say OK, let's see what's going on. I tried many times to push but with eight laps to go, I took a very big risk in turn 6, so I said OK, maybe Marc is going to pass me, but after two minutes I knew he was too clever to stay in front and make the rhythm.
"I thought to let him past to make the rhythm, but in the warm-up he was stronger and I was scared to lose him, so I tried to stay in front all the race. I pushed with two laps to go but in the penultimate lap he did a great last corner and passed me in turn 1.
"I tried to go in at turn 4 and I saw him a little bit wide, but I lost the steer and my bike stayed up only because I am very tall and I try with the knee to stay up. He did an incredible last lap and I am a little bit sad about second place but I have no regrets because I tried all the race. He did an incredible last lap so he deserves this win today. "
Petrucci attempted to shake off Marquez on a few occasions during the race but said it was difficult to even remain upright on the wet but drying track.
"When I was leading the race I was not pushing so much and I think all the riders were not pushing so much because the conditions of the track were very difficult. I only tried to stay up and be as fast as possible but I knew Marc was very strong.
"I hope for Dovi to maybe be with us but then I tried to win the race but Dovi was a bit too far. Maybe two or three times during the race I tried to push to make some gap with Marc because I knew he was very strong in the last laps. It was not possible to create a gap and in fact I did not push all the race, but I was at the limit and only to stay up was very difficult. "
Third place man Andrea Dovizioso told us
"I realised from the first few laps that it was a very difficult race for me because I didn't have the grip and I didn't understand why. After the crash of Jorge [Lorenzo], Danilo and Marc make always the same pace so I was trying to understand if I have a chance to stay with them until the end.
"But I didn't have any better point compared to them to try to fight with them. Like everybody saw, it was so easy to make a mistake and there was a lot of crashes in every category. Today, when I was riding in the race, I thought this is the day when it is more important to take 16 points than zero.
"I think you have to try like Marc, to take a lot of risks, but if it is good to do that - I didn't feel that. I'm not so happy about the feeling I have with the bike and I lose some points in the championship, but in the conditions we found in the wet and the confirm of yesterday in the dry about our speed, I'm really happy. "
Dovizioso believes the title battle now concerns three riders - himself, Marquez and Maverick Viñales - with Valentino Rossi out and Dani Pedrosa only finishing in 14th place.
"Now it is very difficult for them. Still there is a chance and anything can happen, like today it was easy to make a mistake so 25 or 30 points is easy to lose, but for now the championship is for the first three riders.
"I think we have a chance to fight for the championship and for sure Marc is very strong and he is really fast in the next race at Aragon. Now we have three in the championship and it is completely open, we have the same points. I'm feeling really good in the dry so we will try until the end.
"We don't answer about the tracks because we don't know, not because we don't want to say. For sure there are some tracks where I prefer, some tracks that he [Marquez] prefers, but it's more important how the bike works with the tyre we have in that weekend.
"It's impossible to know now, so I think it will be completely open. Marc has confirmed and Honda that they are really strong in the moment but also we confirm in some tracks and some conditions, when normally we are not fast in the past, now we are fast. I think it will be nice until the end. "
Dovizioso used the new aerodynamic fairing in the race after using the standard version in qualifying, and he explained the decision in the post-race press conference.
"We know very well the positive and negative things for the new fairing and for the grip we found in this track, I think it was good to use it, I have no question about that and on the wet it was better. "
His team-mate, Jorge Lorenzo, led the race until he came off at turn 6 on lap seven and Dovizioso feels the Spaniard was simply taking more risks.
"He crashed where most the of the riders crashed today. It was maybe the worst corner for the grip and he was riding very fast at that moment. He wasn't riding crazy, just he took more risk than us. It is his style, to start very fast at the beginning of the race, but sometimes it doesn't work. "
Yamahas Maverick Viñales told us
"I'm happy with the result, because it is the best we could do. Honestly, today we asked 100% of the bike. I tried to get the best result and today that was fourth. We have to continue to work in the same way, because today was a good improvement compared to the wet race at the Sachsenring, especially the handling of the bike. We still need a lot of grip on the traction, so we have to keep going. I'll have to push in Aragon and believe we can close the 16-point gap to our rivals. On the dry we were really fast, I'm happy we made another step here in Misano. I hope we can do the same in Aragon. "
After the race a disappointed Jorge Lorenzo said,
"From the outside it looks as if I was pushing a lot as I was a second quicker than everybody else. Obviously I wasn't slow but I wasn't risking so much and it was normal, opening the throttle smoothly to save the rear tyre and trying not to take risks in the corners where we are leaned over, but I lost concentration for just a couple of tenths which was enough to change direction and it was enough to lose the rear wheel and I flew off. It was a real pity because without this I could've stayed on the bike and made a good advantage, but I crashed so my race was over.
"The good thing is that we don't have to fight for the Championship, so today's crash would've been worse if I was fighting for the Championship, but I'll take this lesson and learn for the future. We must know that in the rain we are very strong and in the weekend we kept this good momentum in the dry too, so it's only a matter of time before another podium arrives - or even a victory. "
The missing Valentino Rossi had this to say to his fans
"It's a big pity that I can't be at my home GP. For sure, I was really looking forward to the round in Misano, because riding in front of the fans there is something very special, but I have to treat the injury with care. I know the team is supporting me during the rehabilitation process. Fortunately I'm fine, I'm not too bad and I've already managed to start some light physiotherapy. The recovery time isn't short, but I will do everything I can to get back on track as soon as possible. I have to say thanks to everyone for the affection you have shown me during these days. See you soon!"
MotoGP Tribul MasterCard GP San Marino E Riviera Di Rimini race results.
MotoGP Race Classification Misano, Sunday, 10 September 2017
MotoGP World Standing 11 September 2017
Qualifying, Race results and championship standing courtesy of motogp.com
- Roland Potter