Maverick Vinales has often seen his MotoGP victory chances thwarted by a poor race start.

But the Spaniard made a perfect getaway in Sunday's inaugural Virtual Race, a six-lap online sprint around Mugello featuring ten premier-class riders, arranged to help fill the void in real racing.

Vinales shot from third to first off the line, before eventual race winner Alex Marquez and pole starter Fabio Quartararo lunged inside at Turn 1.

The #12 looked to have played it safe around the outside, only to be taken out by his 2021 factory Yamaha team-mate Quartararo when the young Frenchman lost the front of his Petronas bike while attacking Marquez.

"It's the first time I started well in my life!" Vinales joked. "Then I had the crash at the first corner."

"I braked a little bit late and lost the front," admitted Quartararo. "I made Maverick crash, but it’s just a game!"

Indeed, with only virtual scratches and bruises, both swiftly agreed they were "still friends".

Vinales recovered to third place and a digital podium, with Quartararo (who set the fastest lap of the race) in fourth.

"It was difficult to fight back but we had a good rhythm," said Vinales. "I'm happy to be on the podium."

MotoGP Virtual Race 2 with a to-be-confirmed rider line-up is to be broadcast on Sunday, April 12.

The start of the real racing season is not expected until at least June.

MotoGP Virtual Race 1 – Mugello Results:

1. Alex Marquez, 6 Laps, 10m 38.643s

2. Francesco Bagnaia, +7.093s

3. Maverick Vinales, +8.496s

4. Fabio Quartararo, +9.968s

5. Marc Marquez, +14.416s

6. Alex Rins, +19.548s

7. Joan Mir, +23.247s

8. Miguel Oliveira, +29.702s

9. Iker Lecuona, NC

10. Aleix Espargaro, NC

 

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