Maverick Vinales took first win of the 2020 MotoGP season after a late crash for long-time leader Francesco Bagnaia gifted the Yamaha rider in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Vinales struggled from pole position in the first Misano race last week owing to an incorrect tyre choice, but a change in approach to set-up in practice meant he was much stronger from the off on Sunday.
The Yamaha rider grabbed the lead from the fast-starting Pramac Ducati of Jack Miller into Turn 4 on the opening lap and opened up a gap of half a second.
Miller’s hopes of a podium quickly faded and he would drop out of the race on lap eight with an engine issue.
Bagnaia on the sister Pramac bike was the rider leading the chase on Vinales by lap two, with the Italian finding a way through on lap six at Turn 4 when the Yamaha rider ran wide.
Using the power of the Ducati and the grip from his soft rear tyre, Bagnaia instantly opened up a lead of over seven tenths, with that advantage growing to over a second a few laps later.
Behind, chaos ensued in the opening laps, with KTM’s Brad Binder crashing at the Carro hairpin at Turn 14 on the second tour having just moved into the podium places.
Moments earlier, Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) slid out of the top eight at Turn 4 and would eventually pull out.
At the front, Bagnaia’s gap held stable between 1.4s and 1.6s, with Vinales comfortably managing the gap behind to the chasing Pol Espargaro on the KTM and Petronas’ Fabio Quartararo.
Though the gap had come down to 1.1s by the start of lap 21, Bagnaia still looked in control, though would be dealt a cruel heartbreak when he crashed going through the Turn 6 left-hander.
This released Vinales into a commanding lead he would not relinquish through to the chequered flag to become the sixth different winner in 2020 and move right back into championship contention.
The battle for second raged in the closing laps, as Espargaro’s soft rear tyre began to fade and Quartararo hounded home.
Suzuki’s Joan Mir closed in on this pair having started from 11th and scythed up the inside of Quartararo on lap 23 at Turn 1 for third, before stealing second from Espargaro at Turn 4 on the following lap.
Quartararo followed him through 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.
|27||Iker Lecuona||KTM||3 Laps|
|63||Francesco Bagnaia||Ducati||7 Laps|
|46||Valentino Rossi||Yamaha||12 Laps|
|53||Tito Rabat||Ducati||15 Laps|
|43||Jack Miller||Ducati||20 Laps|
|33||Brad Binder||KTM||24 Laps|
|View full results|
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