Yamaha’s Quartararo survived an early challenge for the lead from Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) and then eased away to end the Ducati dominance at their home track in a peerless win of the MotoGP Italian Grand Prix at Mugello, round six of the championship.
The race was preceded by a minutes silence in memory of Moto3 rider Dupasquier who succumbed to the injuries he sustained in qualifying, with his passing announced shortly after the first race of the day.
Once underway, Quartararo started from pole but was immediately under pressure from Italian Bagnaia. An unforced error by the Ducati man took his main rival out of contention on just the second lap and from there Quatararo was able to pull away, ending up three seconds ahead at the chequered flag.
The Frenchman’s third win of the season ended Ducati’s dominance of Mugello, where they had won the previous three races held at the track, and he extends his title lead in the process – he now has a total of 105 with fellow Frenchman Johann Zarco (Ducati) second on 81 points.
Red Bull KTM’s Miguel Oilveira saw Zarco struggling with his tyres ahead and took advantage reeling in the Pramac Rider to finish second, but unable to catch a distant Quartararo.
Post-race the Portuguese rider had been demoted a place for exceeding track limits, but was reinstated when third-placed Joan Mir was judged to have done the same.
All of the podium finishers dedicated their performances to the late Dupasquier with touching, heartfelt speeches.
Behind the winner the duels were quite defined until late in the race with Zarco and Oliveira at war while the Suzuki duo of Alex Rins and Mir battled each other.
Rins made an error late on which saw him slide out of contention on lap 20, while the fading Zarco saw his tyres become difficult to manage as he dropped positions.
Reigning champion Mir rallied for the final podium spot while Zarco – riding a damaged bike after Enea Bastianini crashed into the back of him at the end of the warm-up lap, just as the grid was forming – still took valuable points in fourth.
Winner of the last two rounds, Australian Jack Miller (Ducati) was initially hounded by the Suzuki pair, but, as they left, he instead caught the interest of South African Brad Binder who set about claiming fifth on the second Red Bull KTM entry.
The Australian brought the Ducati home in sixth, almost two seconds ahead of Aleix Espargaro who earned Aprilia a top seven finish despite his arm pump woes coming to the fore on such a corner intensive track.
Spain’s Maverick Vinales (Yamaha) failed to recover from his poor qualifying, which saw him fail to progress from Q1 and start 13th. The new father finished the race eighth after picking off a few riders ahead and benefiting from several falls early in the race. A long battle with Michele Pirro was ended when the pair received a track limits warning apiece.
With no Mugello race last year, the most recent winner at the track had been 2019 victor Danilo Petrucci. This time out he was ninth for Tech 3 KTM.
Though not in the same universe as his seven consecutive Italian Grand Prix wins, Valentino still put on a show on race day.
In his “Moo-gello” themed cow helmet he aimed to give his absent fans something to cheer, with his late move on Iker Lecuona seeing him end a very difficult weekend with a top-10 finish for Petronas Yamaha.
That pushed Tech 3’s Lecuona back to eleventh, ahead of the top Honda finisher Pol Espargaro on the factory machine in 12th. The Spaniard ran the race with a number 50 on his Minion helmet in memory of Dupasquier.
A late run wide through the gravel dropped Pirro, in for Jorge Martin at Pramac, to 13th.
The final points went to Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) in 14th and Gresini’s Lorenzo Savadori in 15th.
Franco Morbidelli finished 16th but saw his chance of a points finish evaporate when he was forced to avoid a crashing Marc Marquez early in the race and had to run wide in the gravel.
Marquez had tried to fit in a space filled by Binder and clipped the bike ahead.
Japan’s Taka Nakagami had been running as top Honda in eighth and just set the fastest lap when he ran wide at turn 14 with three laps remaining.
The MotoGP paddock moves straight on to Barcelona next weekend for round seven, the Catalunya Grand Prix.
Find BikesportNZ.com on FACEBOOK here
2021 MotoGP Championship standings:
1 Fabio Quartararo, FRA, Monster Yamaha (YZR-M1) 105
2 Johann Zarco, FRA, Pramac Ducati (GP21) 81 (-24)
3 Francesco Bagnaia, ITA, Ducati Team (GP21) 79 (-26)
4 Jack Miller, AUS, Ducati Team (GP21) 74 (-31)
5 Joan Mir, SPA, Suzuki Ecstar (GSX-RR) 65 (-40)
6 Maverick Viñales, SPA, Monster Yamaha (YZR-M1) 64 (-41)
7 Aleix Espargaro, SPA, Aprilia Gresini (RS-GP) 44 (-61)
8 Brad Binder, RSA, Red Bull KTM (RC16) 35 (-70)
9 Franco Morbidelli, ITA, Petronas Yamaha (YZR-M1) 33 (-72)
10 Miguel Oliveira, POR, Red Bull KTM (RC16) 29 (-76)
11 Pol Espargaro, SPA, Repsol Honda (RC213V) 29 (-76)
12 Takaaki Nakagami, JPN, LCR Honda (RC213V) 28 (-77)
13 Alex Rins, SPA, Suzuki Ecstar (GSX-RR) 23 (-82)
14 Danilo Petrucci, ITA, KTM Tech3 (RC16) 23 (-82)
15 Alex Marquez, SPA, LCR Honda (RC213V) 20 (-85)
16 Enea Bastianini, ITA, Avintia Ducati (GP19) 20 (-85)
17 Jorge Martin, SPA, Pramac Ducati (GP21) 17 (-88)
18 Marc Marquez, SPA, Repsol Honda (RC213V) 16 (-89)
19 Valentino Rossi, ITA, Petronas Yamaha (YZR-M1) 15 (-90)
20 Iker Lecuona, SPA, KTM Tech3 (RC16) 13 (-92)
21 Stefan Bradl, GER, HRC (RC213V) 11 (-94)
22 Luca Marini, ITA, Sky VR46 Avintia Ducati (GP19) 9 (-96)
23 Michele Pirro, ITA, Pramac Ducati (GP21) 3 (-102)
24 Lorenzo Savadori, ITA, Aprilia Gresini (RS-GP) 3 (-102)
25 Tito Rabat, SPA, Pramac Ducati (GP21) 1 (-104)