MAVERICK Vinales can barely believe his luck.
He missed being wiped out in successive MotoGP races in Austria, first when the wreck of a riderless bike whizzed between him and Valentino Rossi, the second when he stepped off his brakeless bike at 210km/h — and on Sunday he won the drama-filled race at Misano.
The event, properly known as the Gran Premio Tissot dell’Emilia Romagna e della Riviera di Rimini, but also as the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, was a thriller from start to finish and unlike Formula 1 — nobody could predict the outcome.
Viñales, on the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP, was the 6th different winner in the 7 races run so far.
Second, after a nail-biting dice with Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT), was Joan Mir on his Team Suzuki Ecstar.
But Quartararo was handed a three-second penalty for exceeding track limits, which demoted the Frenchman to P4 and elevated Espargaro to the podium.
Francesco Bagnaia, on the Pramac Racing Yamaha, had the race in his pocket, well in front until 7 laps from the end, when he slid off into the gravel.
Drama unfolded shortly after the start when Franco Morbidelli, who won at San Marino, ended up last after a brush with the Aprilia of Aleix Espargaro.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Brad Binder made good progress from P6 to P3 on the opening lap but crashed, remounted, and crashed again soon after.
Veteran racer Valentino Rossi was out of his 250th Grand Prix with Yamaha moments later when he too, went down.
In the meantime, Bagnaia had swept through to the lead, half a second clear of Viñales.
Huge drama unfolded with just seven laps to go when Bagnaia’s dream of a GP win ended in a cloud of dust.
That left Viñales with a secure lead while a three-rider dogfight for second and third raged behind.
Mir struck three laps from the end, snaking inside Quartararo, and staying 2nd.
With Quartararo finishing 4th and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) taking P8, Viñales is now level on points with Quartararo and one-point behind Dovisioso, with Mir now just four points from the title leader.
Fifth was Portuguese rider Miguel Oliveira, who won in Austria on his Red Bull KTM Tech3, but teammate Iker Lecuona crashed out of P6 with two laps to go, so 6th spot went to Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu).
Seventh came Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), followed by Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and despite running last on the opening lap, Morbidelli recovered well to salvage 9th place.
Fellow Italian Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) completed the top 10.
Barcelona comes up next week, when more of this premier class action continues.
- Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP)
- Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) +2.425
- Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) +4.528
- Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) +6.419
- Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3)+7.368
- Taka Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) +11.139
- Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) +11.929
- Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) +13.113
- Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) +15.880
- Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) +17.682
CHECKOUT: 210km/h step-off after brake failure
CHECKOUT: Rossi shaken by narrow escape