Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Fabio Quartararo had motorsports fans on the edge of their seats until the very end of the Gran Premio di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini. He piled on the pressure but came just 0.364s short of a win. Still, his superb second place shows the championship leader can never be ruled out. The fans at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli were also thrilled to see Franco Morbidelli back in action after a long rehabilitation period. He went the distance and ended his first race on the Factory Yamaha in 18th place.
Quartararo had a strong start and snaked through the first corners in second place before settling in third. The opening two laps were filled with confrontations between the Yamaha man and Jorge Martin. El Diablo was not planning to relinquish his third place and with Martin crashing out on lap 3, the Frenchman could concentrate on his chase to the front.
The number-20 rider gradually closed the gap to Jack Miller. Matching the pace of frontrunner Francesco Bagnaia, it was only a matter of time before he would be able to put in a bid for second place. A mistake by Miller with 20 laps to go sped up the process. Setting multiple red sectors, Quartararo had his first opportunity in Turn 6 six laps later, and he didn‘t think twice about grabbing it with both hands.
Quartararo had a nearly 3-second gap to Bagnaia, but is famously no slouch. He was steadily making up time, inching closer lap by lap, and with four laps to go the deficit was down to 0.6s. There was a clear pattern: the Yamaha was strongest in sector 1 and 4, but the race leader had the advantage in sector 3. Quartararo fought tooth and nail, coming as close as 0.151s but ultimately had to settle for second, with a 0.364s gap over the finish line. With 19 premier class podiums to his name, Quartararo is now the most successful French rider in history.
Morbidelli started from 16th position on the grid and found himself in the busy mid-pack through the first corners. He dropped back to 20th after the opening laps before he got into a steady rhythm. He gained a few positions due to riders crashing out or retiring from the race, but he also lost places in battles with Danilo Petrucci, Valentino Rossi, and Luca Marini.
The second half of the race was a lonely but productive ride for the number-21 rider. After missing five consecutive Grand Prix events, he is eager to make kilometres on the bike again. Despite his leg not being completely healed, he was able to find a solid rhythm and complete the full race length. Overtaking Marini again on the last lap, he scored 18th place on his Factory Yamaha debut, 36.272s from first.
After today's results, Quartararo's lead in the championship stands at 48 points, with a 234 points total. His new teammate Morbidelli remains in the 17th spot in the rankings with the 40 points he scored in the first eight rounds. Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP stay in first place in the team standings with 329 points and Yamaha holds second in the constructor championship with 262 points.
The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team will be back in action in Misano on Tuesday and Wednesday for the Misano MotoGP Official Test. After that they will be racing again in two weeks‘ time at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas.