Fabio Quartararo has clinched his and Petronas SRT Yamaha’s maiden MotoGP victory with a peerless performance in the Spanish MotoGP in Jerez, while defending champion Marc Marquez spectacularly crashed out of the race with three laps remaining.

The first Frenchman in 21 years to win a premier category grand prix victory, Quartararo recovered from a tardy start to work his way back into contention when early leader Marquez ran off course and to the back of the field.

Indeed, the Spaniard looked to have ruled himself out of contention for big points when on lap six he lost the front-end of the Repsol Honda at turn three and skated on the Honda frame before collecting it through the gravel trap.

Dropping him to 18th and last, Marquez quickly regained his composure and made rapid in-roads back up the order as he dispatched of his rivals.

Taking him all the way to third and on the tail of Maverick Vinales with just three laps remaining, Marquez looked set for second place when he dramatically high-sided at the same turn three.

A painful looking fall – which also resulted in his Repsol Honda clattering into him too – Marquez has been taken to the medical centre after being viewed laid out on a stretcher and in a neck brace.

Despite Marquez’s charge, it is unlikely he’d have caught Quartararo who’d made the most of Marquez’s initial off to work himself back into contention.

Indeed, it was Vinales that made the early running from the front row, holding position until Marquez passed him on lap three. Resuming the lead when the Spaniard went off ahead, the Yamaha rider nonetheless looked to have problems getting his M1 stopped as he repeatedly missed his braking point, allowing both Quartararo and Jack Miller to pass at the final corner on lap nine.

It was the invitation Quartararo needed to simply stretch away, multiplying his lead to cross the line well clear of his rivals and break the duck he has been threatening to do ever since he claimed his maiden pole position at the same circuit just over a year ago.

As the only rider to mirror Quartararo’s pace, it explains why Marquez was able to scythe his way right to the back of the chasing pack, simply picking them off one by one until he was third and back with Vinales, the rider he was with when he went off 16 laps earlier.

Unfortunately for Marquez the Honda cried enough and he was spiralled into his first DNF since the Grand Prix of the Americas more than a year ago.

His demise gave breathing room for Vinales to collect second position for a Yamaha 1-2, from Andrea Dovizioso who got a satisfying podium result on a low key weekend by passing Jack Miller for third on the penultimate lap.

Franco Morbidelli made strong gains in the closing stages to grab fifth on the final corner from Pol Espargaro, who nonetheless produced arguably KTM’s most convincing like-for-like performance in MotoGP to date with sixth.

Pecco Bagnaia ran fourth early on before tyre degradation appeared to send him backwards to seventh, ahead of Miguel Oliveira, who made the greatest gains of anyone in the race to claim a career-best equalling eighth place finish on the Tech 3 KTM.

Danilo Petrucci and Takaaki Nakagami completed the top ten, with Johann Zarco 11th on his debut for Avintia Ducati, Alex Marquez 12th as the sole Repsol Honda representative and Brad Binder – who was circulating with team-mate Espargaro early on before a mistake dropped him back – collecting three points for 13th.

Tito Rabat and Bradley Smith were the final finishers in 14th and 15th, to score points.

Elsewhere, Joan Mir was an early casualty on a dismal day for Suzuki, while Aleix Espargaro crashed and Valentino Rossi failed to finish due to mechanical problems.

Cal Crutchlow failed to start after picking up a concussion in the morning warm-up, joining Alex Rins on the pre-race sidelines.

 

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