Morbidelli Conquers Misano For First MotoGP Victory

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Franco Morbidelli crosses the finish line to earn his first MotoGP victory on Sunday. (MotoGP Photo)
Franco Morbidelli crosses the finish line to earn his first MotoGP victory on Sunday. (MotoGP Photo)

MISANO ADRIATICO, Italy – Franco Morbidelli earned his first victory in MotoGP competition on home soil Sunday at Italy’s Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli.

The Italian rider for Petronas Yamaha SRT started second and won the drag race into turn one over polesitter Maverick Viñales and his teammate, Fabio Quartararo. Valentino Rossi got a great start from fourth to move into second at the start.

The riders settled into a rhythm, with Morbidelli and Rossi leading the way ahead of a pack of hungry riders. On lap seven Quartararo, who entered the race as the championship leader, went into turn four a bit too hat and crashed while running in fourth.

At the front of the field, Morbidelli remained at the front with Rossi doing his best to stay close. On lap 12 the gap grew to roughly one second, while Francesco Bagnaia, Alex Rins and Joan Mir found themselves running down Rossi.

It wasn’t long before Bagnaia moved into third around Rins. He then followed up by dispatching Rossi to move into second as Rossi tried to hang on to a podium. Meanwhile Mir, who was running fifth, had closed the gap on the group in front of him in an effort to steal a podium for himself.

On the penultimate lap Rins gave up fourth to his teammate Mir, giving Mir a clear shot at Rossi just up the road. In turn 10 on the final lap Mir made his move, slicing his way around Rossi to steal the third position. Rossi tried to steal the spot back a few turns later, but Mir denied him to hang on to the final podium spot.

All of that happened well behind Morbidelli, who claimed his maiden MotoGP victory in his home country. Bagnaia finished more than two seconds behind Morbidelli, with Mir chasing him across the finish line in third. Rossi settled for fourth, with Rins taking fifth.

With Quartararo crashing early in the event, Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso has moved into the MotoGP championship lead by six points over Quartararo.