With the audience probably wishing that the track was beachside, the over fifty degrees of the tarmac were always going to cause some sort of trouble. The best of the best at managing his tyres proved to be Andrea Dovizioso, the Italian taking an impressive victory to become the first Ducati rider since Casey Stoner in 2010 to take back-to-back wins for the Italian factory.
Marc Marquez pulled a rabbit out of the hat and managed to not exceed those sixty degrees of lean angle – which he had trouble with all weekend – to grab a vital second position and literally barrel-roll his way onto the podium. Teammate Dani Pedrosa looked like absolute favourite for the win but his tyres screamed ‘no more’ after leading most of the race and the Spaniard settled for the final podium position.
Poleman Pedrosa had a good start to his race but Jorge Lorenzo made a brave attempt to lead by the end of lap one, giving Marquez a chance to sneak ahead of his teammate. The Honda duo nursed their medium rear tyres as Lorenzo on the hard combination was pulling away at the front. The other factory Ducati played it safe early on in fourth place, Dovizioso on the same medium rear as the Hondas, as opposed to his leading teammate.
Marquez started pushing, tempted to catch up with Lorenzo, finding a way past on a wild bike moving and shaking, taking Pedrosa with him and Lorenzo losing another spot to his teammate in the bonanza. Jonas Folger and Danilo Petrucci didn’t take long to get past too as Lorenzo looked to be suffering already, running wide several times.
Pedrosa saw his chance and got past Marquez on lap eight, Dovizioso doing the same by the end of the same lap. The trio, joined by Folger, were pulling a bit of a gap to Petrucci as the pace settled at the front. Petrucci had survived a wild start after sweeping across the track and managing to hit Marquez quite roughly, both lucky to keep on board of their machines, the Italian coming off worse and losing positions out the top ten. He had recovered to fifth place but used up his hard tyres early and had difficulties trying to catch up with the lead group. His position looked secure until he crashed out on the final lap.
Dovizioso looked comfortable behind Pedrosa, getting very close on the main straight but not attempting an overtake until there were nine laps to go, when he easily took the lead and lapped almost a second faster than the Hondas the next time around. Marquez saw his chance and made it past his teammate, pushing hard to catch up with the Ducati. The mission proved challenging, Dovizioso matching each and every of his red sectors, as Pedrosa was dropping back after punishing his tyres at the start. Marquez appeared to settle for a podium and let the gap go over a second with four laps to go.
Alvaro Bautista was leading the charge behind Petrucci, with Johann Zarco and Lorenzo on his tail. The trio provided the entertainment in the final third of the race, lively disputing sixth place. In the final four laps, they came over a very slow Folger, Lorenzo finding his feet once again on the harder tyre to make it past the satellite Yamaha and stretch a significant advantage over his pursuers. Lorenzo scored a hard-fought fourth place to make Gigi Dall’Igna’s smile even wider.
Johan Zarco got the better of his teammate on the final lap, picking up fifth place, Folger settling for sixth after running with the lead group early on, leaving Bautista seventh, almost three seconds down the road.
The Yamahas on the medium tyre combination had mixed starts, Valentino Rossi gaining from thirteenth grid spot to tenth by lap five, while Maverick Viñales went from ninth on the grid to fifteenth in the same timeframe. The duo were always going to suffer, Rossi finishing eighth, with Viñales tenth behind Hector Barbera and helped by crashes from Miller and Petrucci.
What was a bad day for Viñales was a good day for the championship battle, Dovizioso now only seven points behind the Spaniard, with Marquez cutting the gap to 23 and Pedrosa a further four points behind. Rossi is still in it, just one point behind Pedrosa, but will be craving some more wins after going a year without sitting on the top step of the podium.
|9||Danilo PETRUCCI||Ducati||2 Laps|
|43||Jack MILLER||Honda||12 Laps|
|41||Aleix ESPARGARO||Aprilia||18 Laps|