Jorge Lorenzo completed a hat-trick of consecutive MotoGP victories with an indomitable performance in the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello to slash team-mate Valentino Rossi's title lead to six points.

Lorenzo was unstoppable on the Movistar Yamaha as he hit the front on the opening lap and soon pulled effortlessly away at the front, winning in the end by a commanding lead of five-and-a-half seconds.

The Italian fans were driven wild with delight as Andrea Iannone put the Ducati GP15 onto the rostrum in an excellent second place, while local hero Valentino Rossi came through from eighth place on the grid to secure a podium in third on the second of the Movistar Yamaha machines.

Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez had sensationally forced his way into contention for the podium after starting from the fifth row following a poor qualifying that left the world champion in 13th position.

However, disaster struck for Marquez, who slid out of the race unhurt while challenging Iannone for second place in the closing laps, leaving the Honda rider with a mountain to climb if he's to have any chance of retaining his premier class crown.

Britain's Cal Crutchlow was also a faller, appearing to lose the front of his CWM LCR Honda while lying in fifth place after eventually pulling away from fellow Briton Bradley Smith on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 M1 as the pair battled it out for sixth.

Dani Pedrosa was unable to keep Rossi at bay as the Repsol Honda rider was pushed back to fourth, finishing ahead of Smith and his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team-mate Pol Espargaro.

Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso was a retirement on the GP15 after the Italian, who qualified third fastest, had been right in contention for the top three for much of the race before losing ground to Pedrosa and Rossi, dropping to sixth before pulling into pit lane.

Iannone made a blistering start from pole to grasp the initiative into turn 1 from Lorenzo and Dovizioso, but Marquez incredibly rocketed through from row five to jump up to sixth place.

Rossi found himself back in 11th on the opening lap, losing three places from his starting position, while his team-mate Lorenzo forged his way to the front by the end of the lap as Marquez gained another two places to lie fourth as they flashed over the line for the first time.

Lorenzo was attempting to make a break for it and behind him, Dovizioso in second had Marquez crawling over his rear wheel, with the Honda rider moving into second place at turn 1 on lap three.

The top four of Lorenzo, Marquez, Dovizioso and Iannone soon began to put some daylight between themselves and Pedrosa, who had taken over fourth from Smith, while Rossi was into ninth but struggling to find a way past Pol Espargaro, who was chasing Crutchlow.

Lorenzo had opened a gap of almost two seconds after six laps and the writing was already on the wall, with Marquez unable to make any inroads on his RC213V.

Dovizioso reclaimed second place from Marquez at turn 1 on the brakes after using the speed of the Ducati on the straight to gain an advantage and the Honda rider was also coming under pressure from Iannone, who swapped places with Marquez on lap eight as they tussled for third.

Rossi was now on the move and passed Smith before reeling in and snatching sixth from Crutchlow on the ninth lap, with Lorenzo now more than three seconds clear at the front.

Iannone was up to second place ahead of Marquez as Dovizioso's charge began to falter slightly as he began to fall into Pedrosa's clutches, with the Repsol Honda rider eventually making his move to take fourth.

Rossi had bridged the gap to force his way into the battle for second and also dispatched Dovizioso, who retired on lap 15 with a suspected rear chatter issue.

With Lorenzo disappearing at the front, Iannone was riding an excellent race in second place from Marquez, with Pedrosa now in Rossi's sights.

Marquez then launched his attack for second place on lap 17, outbraking Iannone at turn 1 before running wide and conceding the place again, then hitting back with a stunning pass at Arrabbiata 1.

However, on the next lap, Marquez's race was over as he challenged Iannone - who had just made a pass to go second - losing the front end of his Honda and sliding into the gravel.

Rossi then slotted into third place on lap 18 with a pass on Pedrosa at Scarperia but try as he might, he was unable to close in on Iannone, despite managing to break Pedrosa's challenge.

Lorenzo nursed his M1 home for a majestic victory, with Iannone and Rossi filling the rostrum places to send the home crowd into raptures.

Pedrosa, Smith and Pol Espargaro completed the top six.

Series rookie Maverick Vinales was an excellent seventh on the Suzuki GSX-RR, followed by Ducati test rider Michele Pirro - having his first race on the GP15 - in eighth, and Octo Pramac Ducati riders Danilo Petrucci and Yonny Hernandez, who completed the top 10.

Petrucci collided with Aleix Espargaro at turn 1 on lap three, knocking the Suzuki rider out of the race with Race Direction declaring the incident would be examined following the completion of the race.

Scott Redding took 11th on the EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda ahead of top Open rider Loris Baz on the Athina Forward Yamaha, with Eugene Laverty earning a point in 15th.

Laverty's Aspar Honda team-mate Nicky Hayden and Stefan Bradl (Athina Forward Yamaha) crashed out at turn 4 on the fourth lap, while Jack Miller was also among the fallers on the CWM LCR Honda.

Italian MotoGP:1.Jorge Lorenzo2.Andrea Iannone3.Valentino Rossi4.Dani Pedrosa5.Bradley Smith6.Pol Espargaro7.Maverick Vi?ales8.Michele Pirro9.Danilo Petrucci10.Yonny Hernandez11.Scott Redding12.Loris Baz13.Hector Barbera14.Alvaro Bautista15.Eugene Laverty16.Mike Di Meglio17.Karel Abraham18.Marco Melandri
Cal Crutchlow
Marc Marquez
Andrea Dovizioso
Stefan Bradl
Nicky Hayden
Aleix Espargaro
Jack Miller
Alex De Angelis

 

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