Motorsport / 9 September 2018, 5:53pm / Motoring Staff
Misano Adriatico, Italy – Andrea Dovizioso took an expertly-crafted victory in the Gran Premio Octo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini, picking his way into the lead and unleashing incredible pace to secure only the second ever win for Ducati at this circuit.
His win also made it three in a row for the Ducati Team, having won at Brno and team-mate Jorge Lorenzo following that up with victory in Austria. Lorenzo was the man on the chase at Misano too, but there was late drama as the five-times World Champion slid out on the penultimate lap while holding off Honda’s defending champion Marc Marquez.
Marquez came home second, with Honda privateer Cal Crutchlow putting in an impressive ride to take third.
South Africa’s Brad Binder finished an incredibly close seventh in Moto2 - just 0.066s behind Fabio Quartararo - while Steven Odendaal was just outside the points in 17th on the underdeveloped NTS and Binder’s younger brother Darryn, still recovering from surgery to a smashed collarbone, put in a superb rid for seventh in Moto3.
Pole-sitter Lorenzo shot out ahead as usual and got the holeshot, ahead of Pramac Ducati’s Jack Miller, but Marquez was the biggest winner off the line, moving up from fifth after a crash in qualifying to slot into third - but he wasn’t there long.
Dovizioso struck quickly against the reigning champion before picking off Miller, pushing hard to tag on to the back of his team-mate as Marquez then sliced past Miller as well, intent on staying in touch with the Ducati duo at the front. Sadly, disaster struck a lap later for Miller as he slid out at Turn 14.
Meanwhile Dovizioso was closing in on Lorenzo, slicing past at Turn 7 on lap six, and beginning to pull away as Marquez tagged on to Lorenzo in the battle for second, diving inside when Lorenzo ran a little wide on lap 14. But Marquez was unable to close the 1.4 second gap to Dovizioso, and a few laps later, he was under attack.
Lorenzo made it through at Turn 8 and lit the touch paper on a few spectacular exchanges between the two, but to no avail and he settled back into third to prepare another attack. Trying again a lap later but not making it through, Lorenzo then changed tactics and went for it at Turn 12.
He’d prepared the move with a couple of feints beforehand, but this time he made it stick. From there it was time to put the hammer down and Lorenzo set about cutting the gap to his team-mate. Tenth by tenth, Lorenzo was reeling him in; the gap came down to 1.3 seconds, and Dovizioso began to respond, but drama suddenly hit the front on the penultimate lap as Lorenzo suddenly slid out of second.
That left Dovizioso in free air at the front to take his first ever win at this circuit, having managed the race to perfection. Marquez took second and extended his Championship lead, with Crutchlow’s impressive pace and race rewarded by a podium after the late drama.
Crutchlow had pulled free of a squabble and sliced past Suzuki’s Alex Rins to get into the position to try and close in on the then-leading trio, and more than made amends for a late crash in qualifying. Rins, meanwhile, impressed on the softer compound rear tyre to get well in the initial fight and then hold great pace to the flag, not able to stay ahead of Crutchlow but nevertheless holding station in the top five until Lorenzo’s late crash promoted him to fourth.
Factory Yamaha rider Maverick Viñales took fifth after dropping back slightly from a front row start and holding off some steady pressure from Dani Pedrosa on the second works Honda, who took sixth.
For Yamaha veteran Valentino Rossi, it was a difficult Sunday at home. Missing the race through injury in 2017 - as his special edition ‘Back to Misano’ helmet pointed out - the ‘Doctor’ had higher hopes for the race that takes place so close to his home town of Tavullia. He finished seventh – the same position in which he’d qualified.
Compatriot Andrea Iannone on the second Suzuki also had a tough weekend, coming home eighth, while Ducati privateer Alvaro Bautista continued his run of good form with ninth and Johann Zarco on the Yamaha Tech 3 completed the top 10.
Francesco Bagnaia converted pole position into his sixth Moto2 win of the season in his home Grand Prix, extending his Championship lead over second place Miguel Oliveira (KTM) to eight points, with the Oliviera fending off Marcel Schrötter, who scored his maiden Grand Prix podium, on the final lap.
Bagnaia grabbed the hole shot and never looked back; Mattia Pasini was his closest challenger in the opening exchanges, keeping the gap to around one second, but couldn’t maintain the pace and eventually fell into the grasp of the chasing duo of Oliveira and Schrötter, who stayed locked together for the whole race.
By this time, Bagnaia had a three second gap at the front and that’s the way it remained until the chequered flag. Despite Schrötter’s best efforts, including an ambitious lunge up the inside at Turn 14 on the final lap, Oliveira held on to take a vital second, while Pasini defeated a late challenge from Joan Mir to take fourth at his home circuit.
Lorenzo Baldassarri fought back from 13th on the grid to take sixth, with Fabio Quartararo (Speed Up) taking seventh, less than bike length ahead of Binder. Jorge Navarro looked set for a top six finish at Misano but was forced to drop one position to behind Baldassari (who was more than three seconds behind at the time) after exceeding the track limits, and finished ninth, albeit well clear of Xavi Vierge, who put in a gritty ride to 10th despite still recovering from injury.
Lorenzo Dalla Porta posted a phenomenal debut Grand Prix victory, beating the two Gresini machines of second placed Jorge Martin and third placed Fabio Di Giannantonio on the run to the line for an all-Honda podium, after KTM privateer Marco Bezzecchi threw away his championship with a crash at Turn 15 on the penultimate lap.
The race started with drama as a huge crash unfolded on the exit of Turn 16 on lap two; after being passed by Martin, Jaume Masia highsided his KTM, leaving Honda riders Aron Canet, Enea Bastainini and Ayumu Sasaki as well as Nicolo Bulega (on the VR46 KTM with nowhere to go as all five riders all went down in a scary-looking pile-up. Thankfully all the riders walked away, with Canet and Sasaki going to the medical centre for a check-up.
That left a group of five at the front, led by Bezzecchi, with Dalla Porta, Martin, Gabriel Rodrigo (KTM) and Di Giannantonio in hot pursuit. The paint swapping then commenced, with Dalla Porta showing his strength was down the back straight and into the fast sweep of left handers, getting the better of Bezzecchi there on numerous occasions. Di Giannantonio made his way to the front from fifth, but none of the top five could make the break or hold the lead for much more than a single lap – with Bezzecchi getting two warnings for exceeding the track limits.
The quintet was feisty and ferocious and with little over two laps to go, Di Giannantonio misjudged his braking heading into the tight Turn 14, narrowly avoiding Bezzecchi and Dalla Porta as he ran up the inside. However, in what could be a championship defining moment, race leader Bezzecchi was too quick on the gas coming out of Turn 15 and high-sided out of contention with a just over a lap to go, with title rival Martin somehow avoiding being collected by his KTM.
This left Dalla Porta in charge on the final lap and despite the best efforts of Di Giannantonio on the final corner, lunging up the inside, he won the drag to the finish line to take his maiden Grand Prix win, made sweeter on home soil. Martin managed to out-run team-mate Di Giannantonio to the line to take a vital second, the latter settling for third at his home GP, with Rodrigo finishing less than a second off the lead in fourth.
Fifth was Jakub Kornfeil (KTM), the Czech rider doing an incredible job to avoid the pile-up on lap two to lead sixth place Albert Arenas (KTM) over the line. Dennis Foggia (KTM) crossed the line seventh in his home Grand Prix for his best result of the season, with Darryn Binder on the only works KTM getting his second top 10 of the season in eighth.
Andrea Migno (KTM) posted his best finish since Mugello in ninth, with Niccolo Antonelli (Honda) rounding out the top 10 in front of his home fans.