Franco Morbidelli cruised to his maiden MotoGP victory in the San Marino Grand Prix at Misano in commanding style, heading Francesco Bagnaia by 2.2 seconds.
Morbidelli made a lightning start to grab the lead after starting from the middle of the front row, the Petronas SRT man leading the equally quick-starting Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales.
Morbidelli and Rossi quickly began to pull away from pole-man Vinales as he came under pressure from the Pramac Ducati of Jack Miller.
The scorching temperatures blazing down on the Misano tarmac forced the leading pilots to lap slower than expected in the early stages, the low 1:33’s recorded allowing Rossi to keep tabs on his VR46 protege ahead.
Morbidelli pulled the pin though as the race entered its second half, extending his gap over the factory Yamaha to over a second first of all before getting into his stride late on and banging in consistent 1:32s.
Rossi began to struggle for speed late on and dropped back towards the chasing riders, leaving Morbidelli to enjoy a quiet remaining third of the contest, extending his lead to over three seconds at one point before rolling off in the closing laps to secure his debut premier class success by over two seconds.
Bagnaia put on a sterling display meanwhile to take a debut MotoGP podium in second in his first race appearance since the Andalucian GP in July, the Pramac racer passing both Alex Rins and Rossi in the closing stages to move himself into the position.
He began to struggle for tyre grip in the last few tours though, narrowly clinging onto his second place from a charging Joan Mir on the final lap-the Suzuki denying Rossi a 200th podium at his home race at Turn 10 on the final circulation.
Rins dropped off after being passed by his team-mate and brought his own GSX-RR home fifth, while Vinales finished a disappointing sixth after struggling for speed throughout the 27 lap contest.
Vinales was the only rider to choose the hard compound rear tyre, a choice the Spaniard would live to regret as he lacked rear-end grip and slipped back.
Andrea Dovizioso was seventh for Ducati just ahead of LCR Honda’s Takaaki Nakagami, while Miller also fell back after running into tyre issues late on to finish ninth.
Pol Espargaro completed the top ten in what was a tricky weekend for all four KTM riders, Tech 3 man Miguel Oliveira and team-mate Brad Binder following just behind in 11th and 12th respectively.
Pre-event favourite Fabio Quartararo meanwhile suffered a disastrous San Marino contest as he crashed out after tucking the front of his M1 at Turn 4 shortly after relieving Vinales of fourth position in the opening laps, losing chunks of time as a result.
He initially continued before heading to the pits in order for his Petronas SRT outfit to check over the Yamaha before heading back out soon afterwards.
His time back out on circuit would be short-lived though as he crashed again for the final time at Turn 6, a cold front tyre the likely culprit.
Quartararo’s non-score means that Dovizioso takes over the championship lead by just six points heading to the second Misano encounter next weekend.
|1||Franco MORBIDELLI||Petronas Yamaha SRT|
|2||Francesco BAGNAIA||Pramac Racing||+2.217|
|3||Joan MIR||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||+2.290|
|4||Valentino ROSSI||Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP||+2.643|
|5||Alex RINS||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||+4.044|
|6||Maverick VIÑALES||Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP||+5.383|
|7||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||Ducati Team||+10.358|
|8||Jack MILLER||Pramac Racing||+11.155|
|9||Takaaki NAKAGAMI||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||+10.839|
|10||Pol ESPARGARO||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||+12.030|
|11||Miguel OLIVEIRA||Red Bull KTM Tech 3||+12.376|
|12||Brad BINDER||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||+12.405|
|13||Aleix ESPARGARO||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||+15.142|
|14||Iker LECUONA||Red Bull KTM Tech 3||+19.914|
|15||Johann ZARCO||Esponsorama Racing||+20.152|
|16||Danilo PETRUCCI||Ducati Team||+22.094|
|17||Alex MARQUEZ||Repsol Honda Team||+22.473|
|18||Stefan BRADL||Repsol Honda Team||+37.856|
|19||Bradley SMITH||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||+1’18.831|
|20||Tito RABAT||Esponsorama Racing||5 Laps|
|21||Fabio QUARTARARO||Petronas Yamaha SRT||9 Laps|