Marc Marquez won an incident-packed San Marino Grand Prix on Sunday, as Valentino Rossi threw away victory with a disastrous pit strategy in a dry-wet-dry race, and Jorge Lorenzo potentially binned his title hopes by crashing out.
Marquez timed his pitstop to switch back to his 'dry' bike to perfection, while Bradley Smith stayed on slicks throughout the rain shower, dropping to 19th and then rising to second, finishing ahead of Scott Redding, who crashed at Turn 4 and got back up to score his first MotoGP podium.
Rossi finished fifth after pitting too late from the lead to return to his dry bike, but extends his MotoGP lead to 23 points.
Lorenzo is understood to have suffered an injury to his right hand in his heavy crash, which occurred when he was poised to finish ahead of Rossi.
Story of the race
With 92,000 fans craving a Rossi victory at his home track, and the threat of rain in the air and much cooler track temperatures, Lorenzo led away from pole position with Marquez sweeping around the outside of a fast-starting Rossi into Turn 1.
Fourth-placed Bradley Smith almost hit Rossi on the opening lap, running wide and dropping to sixth.
Lorenzo led Marquez at the end of the opening lap, ahead of the battling Rossi, Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Iannone.
Rossi was using the winglets on the front fairing that he’d used in warm-up, as opposed to Lorenzo, who opted not to use them. Meantime, Marquez opted for the medium front tyre, as opposed to the Yamahas on hards.
Marquez fell away from Lorenzo on the second tour, as rain began to fall, with Rossi detaching himself from Pedrosa’s advances. But Marquez was quickly back into his rhythm and Rossi set fastest lap on the third tour to close the leading trio back together.
Pedrosa, the last Honda winner here in 2010, fell away in fourth and had Iannone, Smith, Andrea Dovizioso and Scott Redding all over him in an immense five-bike battle.
Iannone grabbed fourth ahead of Redding, who promptly crashed while running fifth.
Pitstops began on lap five for riders to switch to their wet bikes, with the leaders pitting a lap later.
Marquez was right alongside Lorenzo as they rejoined, with Rossi losing valuable time and getting stuck behind Michele Pirro.
Ducati test rider Pirro, a wildcard entry for this race, was pushed off the grid before the warm-up lap from fifth. He started the race on his ‘wet’ spare bike, but was soon back in the pits where his ‘dry’ machine again refused to start.
Dovizioso inherited the lead, ahead of Smith and Cal Crutchlow, before they pitted – with the exception of Smith, who stayed out on slicks. Marquez passed Lorenzo on the out lap on their wet bikes, and was installed as leader by lap eight.
But Marquez ran wide on lap nine, losing the lead back to Lorenzo.
Rossi had slipped back behind the leaders by over 3s during the pitstop, and didn’t immediately appear to have the wet-weather pace he displayed to win at Silverstone recently.
Danilo Petrucci, who was the star of that race, leapt up to fourth on his Pramac Ducati, ahead of the works Italian machine of Iannone. Pol Espargaro has risen to sixth from 12th on the grid after his Q2 tumble, while Tech 3 Yamaha teammate Smith tumbled down the order after staying on slicks in the damp conditions.
Marquez attacked Lorenzo again on lap 11, as their duel helped Rossi to close right in.
Classic three-way battle unfolds
The race developed into a classic three-way tussle between the best riders of their generation in treacherous track conditions. Marquez attacked Lorenzo, but Rossi then powered past him on the following straight as Marquez looked around and appeared to allow him through.
Smith, still on slicks down in 19th, became the fastest man on the track again just after half distance. Petrucci was a solid fourth, clear of Pedrosa and Espargaro.
With 12 laps to go, Rossi hit the front for the first time at the first corner, to the home crowd’s delight. But on worn wets, Smith was now 7s a lap quicker than the leading pace.
Lorenzo go the ‘in’ board but refused to pit to return to his ‘dry’ bike, as Marquez dropped back in third. Marquez pitted with 10 to go, as Smith was now lapping 10s a lap faster, as the Yamahas stayed out on their wets.
Rossi pulled clear of Lorenzo at the front, with Pedrosa also staying out on worn wets in third, with Marquez rejoining on slicks in fourth.
Lorenzo pitted for slicks with eight laps to go, but Rossi stayed out in the lead. Pedrosa pitted from third, promoting Smith with Loris Baz now running an amazing fourth and Redding returned to fifth, despite his earlier tumble.
Rossi pitted a lap later, but his stop was way too late, and handed Marquez a huge lead.
But just as Rossi rejoined, having lost all hope of victory, Lorenzo crashed out heavily at the high-speed Turn 15. Ironically, Lorenzo would have been well ahead of Rossi, having crucially pitted a lap earlier.
Marquez led Smith, Baz and Redding, with Rossi rejoining in fifth, ahead of Petrucci and Jack Miller.
With four laps to go, Redding passed Baz for the final spot on the podium.
Thanks to Lorenzo's exit, Rossi now leads the championship by 23 points.
Yonny Hernandez and Alex de Angelis crashed out at Turn 6, Hernandez dropping his Pramac Ducati and inadvertently taking out de Angelis.
|4||Loris Baz||Yamaha Forward||48'50.246||26.427|
|13||Mike Di Meglio||Ducati||49'12.200||48.381|