Maverick Vinales took first win of the 2020 MotoGP season after Francesco Bagnaia who was the race leader having a late crash giving the Yamaha rider victory in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Vinales had struggled from pole position in the first Misano race last week due to a wrong tyre choice, but it was later rectified in approach to a new set-up in practice meaning he was much stronger from the race start on Sunday.
The 25-year-old Yamaha rider took the lead from the fast-starting Pramac’s Jack Miller around Turn 4 on the opening lap and was able to create half a second gap, as Miller’s hopes of a podium quickly faded and he would drop out of the race on lap eight after experiencing an engine issue.
Bagnaia on the sister Pramac bike was the rider following Vinales closely by lap two, with the Italian rider finding a way through on lap six at Turn 4 when Vinales on the Yamaha ran wide. Bagnaia later opened up a lead of over seven tenths, by harnessing the power of the Ducatti and the grip from the rear soft tyre. This gave the rider the edge to widen the gap to over a second a few laps later.
With KTM’s Brad Binder behind, chaos ensued after crashing at the Carro hairpin around Turn 14 on the second tour having just moved into the podium places. Moments earlier, Valentino Rossi on the Factory Yamaha fell back from the top eight at Turn 4 and eventually pulled out having only completed 12 laps.
Bagnaia’s gap held stable between 1.4s and 1.6s as he lead the bikes, as Maverick Vinales comfortably closing the gap behind to the Pol Espargaro on the Factory KTM and Petronas Yamaha SRT with Fabio Quartararo. Though the gap had come down to 1.1s by the start of lap 21, Bagnaia still looked in control until he crashed going through the Turn 6 left-hander.
This released Vinales into a dominant lead to the chequered flag to become the sixth different winner in 2020 and move right back into championship contention.
The battle for second was very tight in the closing laps as Factory KTM’s pol Espargaro was experiencing problems with his soft rear tyre fading due to wear. Fabio Quartararo tried to close in on him on the Petronas Yamaha but the race concluded as he took 4th behind Espargaro.
Suzuki’s Joan Mir closed in on this pair having started from 11th and overtook Quartararo in lap 23 at Turn 1 for third, before taking the second position from Espargaro at Turn 4 on lap 24. Quartararo followed him through at Turn 4, but was hit with a long-lap penalty on the final lap for exceeding track limits too many times.
The Petronas rider did not take the penalty loop and was hit with a three-second time penalty at the chequered flag, dropping him to fourth and promoting Espargaro to the podium being third.
Miguel Oliveira came through from 15th on his Tech 3 KTM to complete the top five ahead of LCR Honda’s Takaaki Nakagami and Alex Marquez, who took his best result of the year on the works Honda in seventh.
Andrea Dovizioso holds a one point lead over Quartararo in the standings after finishing down in eighth, with just four points now covering the factory Ducati rider, Quartararo, Vinales and Mir.
San Marino GP winner Franco Morbidelli recovered from early contact after Aleix Espargaro crashed into him to finish ninth, with Danilo Petrucci (Ducati), Avintia’s Johann Zarco, Alex Rins (Suzuki) and Aprilia’s Bradley Smith claiming the final points.
Tech 3’s Iker Lecuona crashed out of sixth in the latter stages, with Avintia’s Tito Rabat also crashing and joining Rossi, Bagnaia, Miller, Binder and Aleix Espargaro on the sidelines.