Fabio Quartararo decimated the competition as he cruised to third MotoGP win of 2021 in the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello as title rival Francesco Bagnaia crashed out early on.
Quartararo utilised the new front start device fitted to his M1 for this weekend to limit the damage to the rapid-starting Ducati’s from pole as he slotted in to second behind Bagnaia entering Turn 1, though the factory Yamaha man was soon sniffing for a way through back into the leadership.
Bagnaia made the Frenchman’s job all the more easy though as he lost the front of his Desmosedici after glancing the kerb on entry to the fast left-hander of Turn 9 on the opening tour, the home hero forced to retire in the gravel.
Quartararo therefore was left to fend of Johann Zarco in the opening laps, the Pramac racer blasting past the M1 along Mugello’s 1.1 kilometre front stretch on the run to Turn 1, though the Yamaha was visibly quicker throughout the rest of the circuit.
Quartararo eventually managed to pass Zarco early enough in the lap to craft enough of an advantage to maintain the lead by the end of the straight at around a quarters distance, allowing him to escape off into the distance across the rest of the encounter while his peers scrapped for the runners-up spot behind.
The battle for the remaining rostrum positions allowed Quartararo to manage his lead and tyres out front, meaning he ultimately took the chequered flag 2.5 seconds clear of an impressive Miguel Oliviera.
The KTM pilot made a good start to move into third following Bagnaia’s early exit, the two-time premier class victor stalking Zarco throughout the bulk of the race before finally making the move for second with around a third of the race remaining as the Suzuki pair of Joan Mir and Alex Rins closed in.
Now struggling for overall grip Zarco was soon relegated to fourth by a charging Mir who then looked to grab second from the KTM.
Mir managed to put pressure on Oliveira in the closing laps but wasn’t quite able to make the difference and thus took the chequered flag just half-a-second later in third, Oliveira taking KTM’s first rostrum result of the year.
This would later become third for Oliveira though after it was deemed he had exceeded track limits while defending against Mir, allowing the GSX-RR man into second ahead of the RC16, though their positions were swapped once again as it was found Mir had also touched the same green tarmac.
Zarco held on to take fourth ahead of Brad Binder, the South African completing a strong day for KTM with both factory RC16’s in the top five.
Miller ended up sixth as he fended off the Aprilia of Aleix Espargaro in the closing tours, while Maverick Vinales could only reach eighth after starting 13th.
Danilo Petrucci brought his Tech 3 KTM home in ninth in a race hit by attrition, while Valentino Rossi completed the top ten as he recovered several spots late on-the Petronas SRT man’s best result so far this year.
Pol Espargaro ended a tough day for Honda in 12th with Alex Marquez 14th on his LCR-run RC213-V as their respective team-mates ended their races in the gravel.
Marc Marquez came of second best in an ill-advised move against Binder at Turn 3 on the opening lap, the Spaniard clattering into the side of the KTM and going down into the gravel-inadvertently causing Franco Morbidelli to have to transit the gravel in avoidance, the Italian eventually finishing a lowly 16th.
Takaaki Nakagami meanwhile was running solidly in eighth and catching the riders ahead before losing the front of his machine through the fast Turn 13/14 chicane towards the end of the lap, ending his race as a consequence.
Rins meanwhile suffered his fourth crash in as many races while chasing team-mate Mir for third late on, the three-time MotoGP race winner sliding out at Turn 20 with just six laps to go.
Quartararo’s success sees him now open up a 26 point lead in the riders standings ahead of Bagnaia and Zarco who are level in second and third overall heading to Barcelona for the Catalan GP in seven days time.
Enea Bastianini bizarrely failed to even start his home race after crashing into the back of Zarco on the warm-up lap, the former braking to get ready to line up and grid and the latter failing to slow sufficiently.
Bastianini’s Avintia Ducati was removed from the circuit as the race began, though he wasn’t able to return to the pits quick enough to re-join later on with his spare machine.