World champion Marc Marquez gave one of his best ever performances to take the win in Misano this weekend, and set up a thrilling final five round battle for the 2017 MotoGP title.
After two days of practice in glorious sunshine, the heavens opened for Sunday’s racing at the Italian circuit. With half the field crashing out in both the Moto2 and Moto3 races that preceded the main event, there was some intrepidation as the main class lined up on the grid.
From the start it was former world champion Jorge Lorenzo who led on his Ducati, only to crash out on the seventh lap of 28. That handed the lead to local rider Danilo Petrucci on another Ducati, but his hopes of taking a historic first race win when Marquez masterfully made his move on the last lap to take his fourth win of the season and to draw level at the top of championship with Andrea Dovizioso, who finished third on his Ducati.
“This was one of the best races of my career,” said Marquez. “It gave me an amazing feeling because it required incredible concentration to manage the tension the whole time. It was very easy to make a mistake, and that’s why I decided to attack only on the final lap. That lap was amazing; I took many risks, but with such a close season, it was worth trying to get the five extra points for the win. Of course I was thinking about the championship the whole race. At the beginning the feeling wasn’t so good, probably because there was so much water on the track, and I had a couple of very scary moments. Lorenzo was amazingly fast early on, and so was Danilo later when he took the lead after Jorge’s crash, but I was able to follow him and finally to attack. Thanks to the team for the great job. I’m happy for everyone after what happened at Silverstone. We always try to be ready for every situation, so because we knew that changing the setup from wet to dry takes quite a long time at this track, we agreed that if I felt the track was drying, and there was even a small possibly of a flag-to-flag race, I would signal the team. So I did, and even if in the end that didn’t happen, it was right to do so as we got close to it. This championship is amazing; anything can happen, but now we’ve returned to the top, equal on points with Andrea. The last five races will be very tough, but we’ll keep pushing and give it our 100%.”
In the absence of the injured Valentino Rossi, it was up to Maverick Vinales to singlehandedly uphold Yamaha’s title challenge. The Spaniard came home a lonely fourth but retains his title ambitions, lying third in the title race but just 16 points behind Marquez and Dovizioso.
Scott Redding was the best of the Brits in Misano, in seventh, while Bradley Smith took a season’s best 10th on the KTM. Cal Crutchlow scored three points for 13th after crashing and remounting, the Coventry rider had been in contention for a podium finish before sliding off. Sam Lowes suffered another nightmare though, as he crashed out on lap 15. The Lincolnshire rider had been running in the top 10 for the first time in the season but was unable to continue after his crash.
The series now moves on to Aragon, in Spain, in two weeks time.
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