Monster Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales has taken his maiden virtual MotoGP win this afternoon, bagging victory at the Red Bull GP of Spain at Jerez.
Pecco Bagnaia threw away a massive lead on the penultimate lap, going down and allowing Vinales to take the lead with Alex Marquez following him through.
Vinales had a big enough gap over his fellow Spaniard to cross the line with a 2.364s advantage while Bagnaia recovered to just scrape a podium.
The opening corner was nothing short of chaos with six riders going down including poleman Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and eventual race winner Viñales. At the front, Bagnaia and Marquez were looking to escape before Marquez crashed out after contact with the Italian in the final sector.
Red Bull KTM Tech 3’s Iker Lecuona found himself in second after he managed to stay clear of the carnage in front of him but his chances of finishing on the podium evaporated on lap three when he crashed at the penultimate corner. In an incident that also saw Quartararo caught up in, suddenly Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was promoted to second and had a debut Virtual rostrum finish in his sights.
The World Champion was put under all sorts of pressure by both Viñales and brother Alex after the pair had refound their form following earlier crashes.
The pair swooped through on the number 93 after a mistake at Turn 2. The trio were split by nothing on lap five but the gaps would quickly grow as Alex Marquez edged clear of Viñales for second, as Viñales did the same to Marc Marquez.
Behind, Quartararo and Lecuona came together again as the Frenchman simply couldn’t stop crashing; the same issue that cost him in the opening two Virtual MotoGP™ races. At half race distance, Viñales ran wide allowing Marc Marquez back through for third but he didn’t hold the final podium place for long, crashing out just moments later.
Then with just three laps remaining, Alex Marquez crashed out of second at Turn 2, only for the leader Bagnaia to crash as well at the penultimate corner allowing Viñales to go from third to first in the space of a lap.
The Spaniard coped with the pressure in the closing stages and took the chequered flag for a first virtual victory. Alex Marquez finished second, with Bagnaia third meaning the same three riders were on the podium again but in a different order for a third time running.
Marc Marquez ended up fourth, despite slowing up on the final two laps to have a fight and some fun with Ducati Team’s Danilo Petrucci, who eventually crashed out during the self-made scrap. Ecstar Suzuki Team’s Alex Rins pounced on Petrucci’s error to take the final top five spot ahead of the Italian.
Red Bull KTM Tech 3’s Miguel Oliveira came across the line ahead of Quartararo, who took the fastest lap honour. The final finishers were Lecuona in ninth, Aprilia’s test rider Lorenzo Savadori in tenth on his virtual debut and Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) in eleventh.
FlexBox HP40’s Lorenzo Baldassarri was eventually able to cruise to victory at the Red Bull Virtual Grand Prix of Spain after somehow managing to stay upright during a ridiculous fight with compatriot Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Petronas Sprinta Racing’s Jake Dixon on the opening lap at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto.
Marini crashed out and as a result lost out on a podium finish with Dixon also coming to blows with Baldassarri after an outrageous divebomb that put the Italian into the gravel. Last year’s Spanish GP winner would eventually recover though and came back past the Briton with ease to take a comfortable win.
It would be a first intermediate class podium for Dixon in second place and the same feat was accomplished by NTS RW Racing GP’s Bo Bensneyder. The Dutchman converted his front row start into a rostrum finish after squeezing past both Marini and Gaviota Aspar Team’s Aron Canet at Pedrosa Corner – Turn 6.
Marini had to settle for fourth after being forced wide in the move and the Italian was unable to convert his qualifying pace into a top three finish. Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Jorge Martin clinched a top five finish and also a moral victory after ending up as the only rider without a time penalty at the conclusion of a hectic 8-lap event.
Sixth was Marcel Schrötter, just ahead of Canet who failed to recover after his earlier coming together with Bendsneyder. Completing the top ten were Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up), Marcos Ramirez (American Racing) and Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team).
It was a memorable day for Kömmerling Gresini Moto3’s Gabriel Rodrigo as the Argentinian rider made history by claiming victory at the Red Bull Virtual Spanish Grand Prix.
The Honda man became the first-ever winner of a Moto3™ Virtual Race to head two Spaniards on the rostrum - second place going to Albert Arenas (Aspar Team Gaviota) for his second podium of the season, with Raul Fernandez taking P3 for Red Bull KTM Ajo.
Despite winning from pole position, the start couldn’t have got much worse for Rodrigo as he slipped to almost last off the line. And talking of bad starts, Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) and Alonso Lopez (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) were down at Turn 1 as Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) took the baton to lead on Lap 1.
However, unprecedented scenes then unfolded at Jorge Lorenzo corner as Foggia’s WIFI said goodbye, and with it, the Italian said addio to the race lead. Fernandez took over at the front, with Rodrigo clawing his way back through the pack to P2.
So, the chase for P1 was on. Fernandez was keeping Rodrigo behind him by just over a second, with Arenas roughly the same distance behind Rodrigo in third.
But at the start of Lap 4, Rodrigo had reeled in Fernandez as the battle for the lead began. Would the polesitter pick off his KTM rival straight away? The answer for a couple of laps was no as Fernandez dealt with the increasing pressure well – but there was drama at Dani Pedrosa corner on Lap 6.
Rodrigo got the run out of Turn 5 down the back straight and made a lunge for the lead up the inside, but contact was made and the race leader was down – Fernandez tasting the gravel trap as he rejoined just behind Arenas.
From there it was a comfortable last two laps for Rodrigo, the advantage over Arenas and Fernandez sitting at over four seconds. Further back there was an intense battle for fifth between Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team), Lopez and Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) and Lap 7 saw the latter duo clean each other out at Turn 11, allowing Arbolino to cruise through to P5.
In the end though – although a tad controversially – Rodrigo was victorious at the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto, with Arenas holding off Fernandez for P3. Öncü wasn’t too far off the podium in P4 as the leading quartet were split by 8.5 seconds, with Arbolino completing the top five in the first-ever Moto3™ Virtual Grand Prix race.
2019 Spanish GP winner Antonelli claimed P6 on his return to Jerez, with Lopez picking up P7 ahead of former teammate Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0). Riccardo Rossi (BOE Skull Rider Facile Energy) finished over 40 seconds back to take P9, with the unfortunate Foggia unable to finish the race.