Maverick Viñales has joined an illustrious list of names by winning his first MotoGP race with a new team, beating off Andrea Dovizioso in a thrilling battle at the end.
Viñales victory came after an improbable start to the race. The Moto3 and Moto2 races took place in near perfect conditions, but spots of rain started falling as the riders headed to the grid, with a second shower falling a little later. The start of the race was delayed twice, finally getting underway about 40 minutes late. By this time, the race had been shortened to twenty laps, with two warm up laps to get tires up to temperatures.
A win by Viñales had looked very far from certain at the start. Andrea Iannone got the holeshot with a brilliant start, leading Viñales and Marc Marquez into the first corner. But Johann Zarco was on his way, the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha putting on a superb display in his first race in the MotoGP class, and quickly taking the lead. Others chased, but Zarco eked away a lead little by little.
Zarco's luck ran out on lap 6. The Frenchman washed the front out while had a lead of over a second, just misjudging the conditions.
That handed Andrea Dovizioso the lead, who had just blasted past Marc Marquez along the front straight. Dovizioso pulled a small gap, while Marquez got tangled up with Andrea Iannone for second. But Marquez had switched from the hard to the medium front tire on the grid, and he was starting to run out of front grip. Marquez and Iannone battling allowed Maverick Viñales to close the gap, dragging along his teammate Valentino Rossi
Andrea Iannone was the first to leave the group, crashing out as he was forced to touch the front brake mid corner to avoid hitting the back of Marc Marquez. That allowed Viñales and Rossi to catch Marquez, and as the Repsol Honda rider struggled, the Yamaha riders made their way past.
Rossi looked close to threatening Viñales, but never quite had the pace of his teammate. Viñales got tangled up with Dovizioso, passing the factory Ducati man in a series of brilliant passes through the back section of the track, but losing out on the front straight and into Turn 1 as the Italian used the superior horsepower of the Ducati and his ability on the brakes to hold Viñales at bay. But Viñales would not be denied. On the penultimate lap, he got past Dovizioso and held an advantage into Turn 1. From there, he managed the gap all the way home.
Viñales became the first rider since Casey Stoner to win his first race after switching teams. Dovizioso was forced to settle for second, after choosing to run the soft rear and not quite making it last to the end. Valentino Rossi took the last spot on the podium, surprised to be there after a tough few practice sessions.
Marc Marquez crossed the line in fourth, some distance ahead of his teammate Dani Pedrosa. Pedrosa just managed to hold off a charging Aleix Espargaro, who recorded an outstanding result on his first ride on the Aprilia. Scott Redding took a very strong seventh, ahead of Jack Miller on the Marc VDS Honda. Alex Rins won the battle of the rookies, finishing just ahead of Jonas Folger, after battling with him all race. Jorge Lorenzo took a disappointing eleventh place on his first outing on the Ducati.
|9||Danilo Petrucci||Ducati||6 Laps|
|29||Andrea Iannone||Suzuki||10 Laps|
|19||Alvaro Bautista||Ducati||13 Laps|
|5||Johann Zarco||Yamaha||14 Laps|
|35||Cal Crutchlow||Honda||16 Laps|