Factory Yamaha MotoGP test rider and multiple world champion Jorge Lorenzo has taken victory in his first-ever virtual race this afternoon.
Starting from pole, Lorenzo was nerfed off by Taka Nakagami on the opening lap but remounted to claw his way back into contention, passing Tito Rabat for the lead with three left to go.
As soon as Lorenzo was past his fellow Spaniard, he never looked back, taking the win by 1.5 seconds with Fabio Quartararo bagging the final podium spot.
“Like some Roman Emperor said, ‘Veni, Vidi, Vici’! So I arrived, I took the pole position and I won. But I have to say that Fabio today was much faster than me but to win the race you have to finish,” said Lorenzo.
“We did it, even if I crashed at the second corner. I was consistent, I was quite fast. I overheated the rear tyre a little bit so It wasn’t easy to catch Tito but finally I overtook him and won the race. It was a lot of fun and I’m very happy.
“During these days I have tried all of the tyre options and I went with the hard rear. I was clear with the soft front, it didn’t overheat, but the medium rear overheated a little and was tough to manage; it was on the limit.
“So the hard option for the final laps was better and I was lucky Fabio crashed as many times as he did, otherwise, it would’ve been hard to beat him.”
As ever in virtual races, the opening lap wasn’t short of drama with the first incident coming when LCR Honda Idemitsu ‘s Takaaki Nakagami wiped out Lorenzo through Turns 2 and 3, leaving Quartararo with the holeshot. He was quickly dropped to second when Nakagami slipped through, however, with the group powering down the Hangar Straight for the first time.
Quartararo was keen to make up for his earlier mistake, and possibly in the end he proved too keen. Lorenzo headed into the gravel trap to put a dint in his progress and the Frenchman followed when the front end of his Yamaha folded. Quartararo’s crash elevated Pramac Racing’s Francesco Bagnaia to second place, but it wasn’t long until the Italian also tucked the front; a surprising mistake from the Red Bull Ring victor and consistent performer in virtual races…
As we completed the opening lap, Nakagami led Rabat and Ducati Team’s Michelle Pirro in an slightly unlikely opening trio given track records - but Quartararo was starting to make some progress back through the field after his first lap crash. He had another setback when crashing after contact with Rabat, however, and by four laps completed Lorenzo was starting to find his feet, squeezing past Pirro and up into third.
Nakagami hit half race distance without making a single mistake, but that was soon to change as the Japanese rider’s hopes of a maiden MotoGP win evaporated in a crash at The Loop - handing the lead to Rabat, much to the Spaniard’s excitement.
But five-time World Champion Lorenzo was on a charge, up to second and with his eyes firmly set on the race lead.
Slowly but surely, the lead came down. Ultimately it took the Yamaha rider two laps to close in on the rear wheel of Rabat’s Ducati, and a further lap to properly dispatch him. Then, Lorenzo began to break clear and by the time he reached the flag, came across the line two seconds ahead to clinch his first virtual victory in MotoGP.
Quartararo clinched the final place on the virtual podium after diving past Nakagami on the last lap to take a debut virtual podium and finally overcome his bad luck and trouble with crashes, leaving early leader Nakagami in fourth. Pirro completed the top five, ahead of Aprilia’s Lorenzo Savadori and a disappointed Bagnaia in seventh after an adventurous event. Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Joan Mir was the final finisher, his race starting to go wrong at Turn 1 on Lap 1 and the Suzuki rider not able to pull it back.