Misano MotoGP: Bagnaia fends off Quartararo to win on home turf

Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia fended off a hard-charging Fabio Quartararo to claim a stunning home MotoGP win at the San Marino Grand Prix, as rookie Enea Bastianini took his maiden podium.

Bagnaia absorbed massive pressure over the closing stages of the 27-lap Misano race from Yamaha’s Quartararo as his soft rear tyre faded to take successive MotoGP victories in 2021.

Bagnaia nailed his launch from pole position and instantly pulled away by a second on the opening lap, as Ducati teammate Jack Miller hopped in front of Quartararo for second.

Through the first half of the race, Bagnaia was in firm control as he swelled his lead to well over two seconds – the Italian helped by mistakes for both Miller and Quartararo at Turn 13 on lap eight.

By lap nine Bagnaia’s lead was close to three seconds, but that gap steadily started to come down by a few tenths here and there.

Bagnaia opted for the soft rear tyre as Quartararo went for the medium, and this choice looked to be inspired as Miller’s pace began to drop.

On lap 14, Quartararo carved through on the struggling Miller into the Turn 6 left-hander, with the Frenchman able to get Bagnaia’s lead down to 1.2s with just eight laps to go.

Behind, Avintia rookie Bastianini aced his start from 12th on the grid and was up to fourth by lap lap six having carved past the Honda of six-time MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez at the Quercia left-hander.

Bastianini was setting fastest laps as the race clicked across mid-distance, allowing to break away from the pack behind and hunt down a maiden podium.

Easing up to the back of the struggling Miller, Bastianini scythed past the factory Ducati rider on his two-year-old Avintia-run Desmosedici through the Turn 13 right-hander to move up to third.

At the front, Quartararo continued to erode Bagnaia’s lead, the Ducati rider’s advantage dropping under six tenths with three laps to go as Quartararo piled the pressure on.

Quartararo visibly had better grip than the Ducati ahead, but Bagnaia could keep the Yamaha at bay using the brute power of the GP21 on the straights.

This closed all avenues for Quartararo to make an overtake on the final lap, Bagnaia staying upright to claim his second career MotoGP victory 0.364 seconds ahead of Yamaha’s Quartararo.

Bastianini’s charge towards Quartararo wilted in the latter stages, but the Avintia rider ended up 5.4s clear of the chasing Marquez to claim his first MotoGP podium and the second-ever for the Avintia squad.

Marquez just fended off Suzuki’s Joan Mir to score fourth, though the latter was dropped behind Miller at the chequered flag owing to a track limits penalty.

Pol Espargaro was seventh on the sister factory Honda ahead of his Aprilia-mounted brother Aleix, with KTM’s Brad Binder and LCR’s Takaaki Nakagami completing the top 10.

Ducati wildcard Michele Pirro was 11th ahead of a struggling Johann Zarco, the Pramac rider dropping from fifth on the grid to 12th at the chequered flag.

Maverick Vinales scored points on his second Aprilia appearance in 13th, with Honda wildcard Stefan Bradl and LCR’s Alex Marquez rounding out the top 15.

Valentino Rossi recovered from 23rd on the grid to finish 17th on his penultimate appearance in front of his adoring home fans on the Petronas SRT Yamaha, with Tech 3’s Danilo Petrucci 1.1s up the road in 16th.

Franco Morbidelli ended his first race as a factory Yamaha rider 18th ahead of Avintia’s Luca Marini and KTM’s Miguel Oliveira, with Andrea Dovizioso 21st in his first MotoGP appearance since Valencia last year.

Alex Rins crashed out late on while fighting for the top four on his Suzuki, with Iker Lecuona (Tech 3) and Jorge Martin (Pramac) also failing to finish.

Quartararo’s championship lead now stands at 48 points as Bagnaia took another five points out of him with just 100 more up for grabs in 2021.

Race results:

Cla # Rider Bike Gap
1 63 Italy Francesco Bagnaia
2 20 France Fabio Quartararo
Yamaha 0.364
3 23 Italy Enea Bastianini
Ducati 4.789
4 93 Spain Marc Marquez
Honda 10.245
5 43 Australia Jack Miller
Ducati 10.469
6 36 Spain Joan Mir
Suzuki 10.325
7 44 Spain Pol Espargaro
Honda 13.234
8 41 Spain Aleix Espargaro
Aprilia 15.698
9 33 South Africa Brad Binder
KTM 16.129
10 30 Japan Takaaki Nakagami
Honda 18.519
11 51 Italy Michele Pirro
Ducati 20.373
12 5 France Johann Zarco
Ducati 21.066
13 12 Spain Maverick Viñales
Aprilia 21.258
14 6 Germany Stefan Bradl
Honda 28.142
15 73 Spain Alex Marquez
Honda 30.686
16 9 Italy Danilo Petrucci
KTM 32.654
17 46 Italy Valentino Rossi
Yamaha 33.853
18 21 Italy Franco Morbidelli
Yamaha 36.272
19 10 Italy Luca Marini
Ducati 36.839
20 88 Portugal Miguel Oliveira
KTM 37.202
21 4 Italy Andrea Dovizioso
Yamaha 42.587
42 Spain Alex Rins
27 Spain Iker Lecuona
89 Spain Jorge Martin
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