Fabio Quartararo dominated proceedings at Jerez to clinch his second successive MotoGP victory in the Andalucian Grand Prix, while Francesco Bagnaia lost a maiden podium due to engine failure.
Quartararo led the field into Turn 1 from pole, but was forced to hold off a charging Maverick Vinales over the opening lap.
The factory Yamaha man sent a move down the inside into the final bend at the end of the lap in his desperation to snatch the lead, but ran wide and dropped to third behind team-mate Valentino Rossi.
Vinales – regarded as Quartararo’s main opponent – then began to struggle for speed for the majority of the race distance, dropping back to sixth behind both Pramac Ducatis as well as the second Petronas SRT M1 of Franco Morbidelli.
This left Quartararo to sprint clear of Rossi, the Frenchman building a three-second advantage in just a handful of laps.
His main rival would ultimately become the impressive Bagnaia, who managed to catch and pass Rossi after relieving Vinales of third, before edging away from both Yamahas and maintaining the gap to Quartararo ahead.
Disaster struck heading into the closing stages for the Pramac man though, as his GP20 began to belch blue smoke with just five laps remaining.
The unfortunate Bagnaia pulled off on the run to Turn 6 on the following lap and retired, losing a nailed on second place in just the second race of his sophomore season.
This allowed Quartararo an even bigger eight-second lead over the fight for second – now between the battling factory Yamahas – a lead he would carry until the end, backing off over the final tours to cross the line 4.5 seconds clear of Vinales.
Rossi looked to have had the measure of Vinales with just a couple tours remaining, but the seven-time premier class champion ran wide at Turn 9 on the penultimate lap and allowed the Spaniard to dive past into the runners-up spot.
Rossi came home third though to secure a domineering 1-2-3 for Yamaha, just holding off a chasing Takaaki Nakagami who bagged his best ever MotoGP result in fourth for his LCR Honda squad, just six-tenths back from Rossi.
Joan Mir was also in range of the top three across the final section of the contest, but ultimately couldn’t get close enough to challenge and instead consolidated his strong fifth position.
Andrea Dovizioso took more solid points, albeit in a distant sixth, as he struggled to match the pace of the front-runners.
Pol Espargaro managed seventh for KTM ahead of highest-placed rookie Alex Marquez, who was an encouraging eighth on the only factory Honda in the race following Marc Marquez’s late withdrawal.
The reigning Moto2 world champion led home the Avintia Ducati of Johann Zarco and Alex Rins, who took an excellent tenth despite struggling with a badly injured shoulder.
Only three other riders took the chequered flag in what was a race dogged by attrition, those being Esteve Rabat, Bradley Smith and Cal Crutchlow.
Miguel Oliveira lost his strong fifth-placed qualifying position early on in an opening lap clash with fellow KTM rider Brad Binder, the Portuguese racer going down in the Turn 1 gravel trap and out of the race, while Binder was able to continue before crashing out himself at the final bend later on.
Binder was forced to pick his RC16 up as Danilo Petrucci dived through on the inside, causing him to clip the back wheel of Oliveira’s Tech 3 machine.
Jack Miller tucked the front of his Ducati at Turn 9 shortly after taking fourth from Vinales just prior to mid-distance, the Aussie retiring on the spot.
Two other big names to retire from the race were Danilo Petrucci – who crashed out at Turn 12 just a lap after Miller – and Morbidelli, who suffered what looked to be an engine problem similar to the one that eliminated Rossi from the Spanish GP last weekend.
|1||Fabio QUARTARARO||Petronas Yamaha SRT|
|2||Maverick VIÑALES||Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP||+4.495|
|3||Valentino ROSSI||Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP||+5.546|
|4||Takaaki NAKAGAMI||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||+6.113|
|5||Joan MIR||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||+7.693|
|6||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||Ducati Team||+12.554|
|7||Pol ESPARGARO||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||+17.488|
|8||Alex MARQUEZ||Repsol Honda Team||+19.357|
|9||Johann ZARCO||Hublot Reale Avintia||+23.523|
|10||Alex RINS||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||+27.091|
|11||Tito RABAT||Hublot Reale Avintia||+33.628|
|12||Bradley SMITH||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||+36.306|
|13||Cal CRUTCHLOW||LCR Honda CASTROL||1 Lap|
|14||Francesco BAGNAIA||Pramac Racing||DNF|
|15||Franco MORBIDELLI||Petronas Yamaha SRT||DNF|
|16||Brad BINDER||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||DNF|
|17||Danilo PETRUCCI||Ducati Team||DNF|
|18||Jack MILLER||Pramac Racing||DNF|
|19||Aleix ESPARGARO||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||DNF|
|20||Iker LECUONA||Red Bull KTM Tech 3||DNF|
|21||Miguel OLIVEIRA||Red Bull KTM Tech 3||DNF|