Jorge Lorenzo secured a third successive MotoGP victory in imperious style in the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello, as Marc Marquez crashed out of third place.
It had been a sensational recovery for Marquez from 13th on the grid, his worst ever qualifying performance in the premier class, as the Repsol Honda rider surged up to sixth after the first corner following a lightening getaway.
He then carved his way up to fourth on the first lap, before becoming embroiled in a thrilling scrap with the Ducatis of Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone for second as Lorenzo made good his escape at the front.
The Yamaha rider emerged from the first corner reshuffle second behind Dovizioso, and after clearing the Ducati rider at Arrabbiata 1, simply rode into the distance with a sequence of scorching laps.
A gap of a second after the opening couple of tours doubled within a lap, and had soon grew to a virtually insurmountable five seconds as Dovizioso, Iannone and Marquez lost time dicing with one another, a buffer Lorenzo would maintain to the finish.
"I started very well, I overtook Dovizioso with a brave move, and then as always I try to put my pace [into effect]," said the victorious Spaniard.
"I've made three wins in a row a few times before, and now the goal is to make four."
As Dovizioso slipped backwards with a technical problem that later caused him to retire, the battle for second was distilled to a duel between former Moto2 rivals Iannone and Marquez, with both men swapping positions numerous times.
But, just as Marquez had been passed by Iannone at the first corner with seven laps remaining, the reigning champion lost the front end of his factory RC213V as he attempted to counter-attack the Italian at the following switchback, ending up in the gravel and out of the race.
That left Iannone home and dry to take his best ever MotoGP finish in second, with Valentino Rossi gradually recovering from a poor start that had left him ninth on the first lap to take the final podium spot, passing the sole remaining Repsol Honda of Dani Pedrosa to seal the place.
"I'm happy to take a podium because it was a difficult race," said Rossi. "I was never strong enough during the weekend, and also during the race I had to suffer a lot."
Pedrosa and the Tech 3 bikes of Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro completed the top six, with Cal Crutchlow dropping out of fifth place in the closing laps with a high-speed crash at Arrabbiata 1.
Maverick Vinales took the best result of his fledgling premier class career in seventh for Suzuki, ahead of the Ducatis of Michele Pirro, who gambled on a soft rear tyre, Danilo Petrucci and Yonny Hernandez.
Loris Baz was the best of the Open runners in 12th, behind Scott Redding's Marc VDS Honda, aided by early crashes for class rivals Nicky Hayden and Jack Miller.
The second Suzuki of Aleix Espargaro was another early casualty after being taken out by Petrucci at the first corner.
|12||Loris Baz||Yamaha Forward||42.158|
|16||Mike Di Meglio||Ducati||1'15.265|
|-||Stefan Bradl||Yamaha Forward|
|-||Alex de Angelis||ART|