Marc Marquez has taken a potentially critical step towards the 2019 MotoGP World Championship with a dominant victory in the Catalunya MotoGP after a sensational error by his team-mate Jorge Lorenzo wiped out key rivals Andrea Dovizioso, Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales.

Three-time champion Lorenzo folded the front-end at the Turn 10 left-hander on lap two, clipping the back end of Dovizioso's Ducati, which in turn skittled Vinales' Yamaha to his outside, while the close-following Rossi had nowhere to go but over Lorenzo's stricken Repsol Honda.

An extreme outcome for what began as a relatively innocuous fall, Lorenzo’s unfamiliar presence up at the front of the field was thanks to a brilliant get away that lifted him from tenth to fourth behind Dovizioso – who won the hole-shot from the second row – Marquez and Vinales.

With Dovizioso getting loose on the exit of Turn 9 mid-way around the second lap, it allowed Marquez a run on him up the inside with Lorenzo was positioned directly behind him as he attempted a similar overtake on Vinales.

However, the Spaniard would come in too deep, the front sliding out from beneath him to clip the Ducati ahead and begin the chain-reaction that also eliminated the innocent factory Yamaha pair.

Inches from disaster, had Marquez not completed his pass on Dovizioso it is plausible to imagine he’d have been taken down too. Ironically, Lorenzo – who apologised profusely when interviewed – has instead done his team-mate and Repsol Honda a huge service where the championship is concerned, with Marquez escaping away from the depleted pack to round out a clear winner.

It means he has added a maximum 25 points to his tally, which moves him 37 points clear of the luckless Dovizioso.

A race of high attrition with only 13 of the 24 starters making the chequered flag, Fabio Quartararo notched up his maiden MotoGP podium in second place after emerging the winner from a thrilling three-way fight involving Danilo Petrucci and Alex Rins.

The Frenchman, who started on pole position, struggled once again off the startline to slip to fifth initially but benefited from the fracas ahead to get back into the podium battle.

Even so, he spent much of the race in fourth place watching a thrilling – and at times bruising – battle between Danilo Petrucci and Alex Rins up ahead, with the latter having to ride particularly aggressive to counteract the Ducati’s top speed advantage with some occasionally wild attempts to pass.

It all culminated in Rins making an ill-judged lunge at turn one with seven laps to go, the Suzuki rider snatching the brake to send the rear round and almost launch him into a high-side, dropping him back to sixth.

Sensing his opportunity, Quartararo pounced on Petrucci at the same time around Turn 3 to grab second, the Mugello winner settling for third as his Ducati’s tyres faded away.

Rins recovered to fourth, getting past Jack Miller on the final lap, while Joan Mir picked up a career-best result in sixth position on podium-free but otherwise points lucrative day for the Suzuki Ecstar team.

In a field decimated by a number of incidents – mostly crashes – Pol Espargaro notched up an unexpectedly strong result for KTM in seventh, ahead of Takaaki Nakagami, while Tito Rabat and Johann Zarco notched up their first top ten finishes of the season in ninth and tenth respectively.

Andrea Iannone also managed a best of the year for Aprilia in 11th, with Tech 3 KTM and Suzuki test rider the last remaining point-scorers in 12th and 13th.

Beyond the high-profile quartet forced out on lap two, Cal Crutchlow threw away a potential top five finish when he crashed at Turn 4 attempting to overtake Miller, while Franco Morbidelli – who suffered a shocking start to be 14th at the end of lap one having started third – fell at Turn 7 attempting to recover ground.

Francesco Bagnaia crashed out for a fourth race in a row, while Bradley Smith and Aleix Espargaro were involved in an incident that forced the former to retire on the spot with the latter being helped off his bike having apparently injured himself upon landing on the Aprilia again following a high-side.

 

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