MotoGP 2019: Marc Marquez's last-gasp victory, Fabio Quartararo’s rise and other talking points from San Marino

  • For the third MotoGP race in a row, the outcome was decided in a thrilling last-lap showdown.

  • At the British and Austrian MotoGPs, world champion Marc Marquez was defeated at the line.

  • Marc Marquez dove ahead of Yamaha's Fabio Quartararo to take victory at San Marino.

For the third MotoGP race in a row, the outcome was decided in a thrilling last-lap showdown. At the British and Austrian MotoGPs, world champion Marc Marquez was defeated at the line, but at the 2019 San Marino MotoGP, it was time for Marquez to avenge those races. He decided to “go for it” at the end and dove ahead of Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo to take victory. Third place went to Maverick Vinales of Yamaha.

Quartararo vs Marquez: The champion vs the rookie

Watching Marquez and Quartararo battle it out for ultimate supremacy throughout the race was a treat for fans. It says a lot about the sport that a multiple-times world champion (Marquez) can be challenged by a rookie (Quartararo). It also seems to symbolise a unique time in the sport, where Marquez is dominating the sport and seems unstoppable in his march towards a sixth world title but at the same time, a new era of young talent is emerging.

Coincidentally, Formula 1 had a similar David and Goliath moment only last weekend at Monza, albeit with a contrary outcome as young Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc was able to hold back champion Lewis Hamilton for victory.

Despite having his first win narrowly snatched away at San Marino, Quartararo called his battle with Marquez as the “best moment not only of my career, but of my life.”

He added that the battle made him more confident than ever. “The good thing was I could overtake him back, and this going home gives me a lot of confidence, to say ‘he’s a seven-time world champion, but we can overtake him’. So, he’s human like us,” he said.

Truthfully, Quartararo is at a defining point of his career where just having the talent and confidence to take on Marquez (despite being a rookie) is commendable. He did not crack under pressure, and that says a lot.

The 20-year-old Frenchman has been particularly successful in qualifying, but the race itself brought different challenges. Given his obvious talent and riding ability, surely it is only a matter of time before Quartararo stands on the top step of the podium. Will it come before the end of the season? The young rider got a huge vote of confidence from none other than Marquez, who said, “Fabio is ready to win a race and, starting next year, fight for the championship.” In any case, his stellar rides have been noted by the paddock and he is the great success story of this season.

Meanwhile, the victory will give Marquez immense peace of mind and help him get over his last corner defeats in the previous two races. After the race, he admitted, “Having lost two races on the last corner burned a bit.”

This win may have a minor impact on the already large gap Marquez has in the championship standings, but probably will have a significantly bigger one on his own mental state. After all, winning the championship isn’t merely about being the rider with the most points — as any true blooded racer will tell you — it’s about being the fastest every single time.

Qualifying spat: Rossi vs Marquez

Vinales grabbed pole for Yamaha, but the biggest talking point from qualifying was the on-track spat between two of the most successful riders on the grid — Marquez and Valentino Rossi. Both riders insisted that the other had deliberately ruined his chance to start on pole, as they pushed for the best time in qualifying. The duo’s spat resulted in a near-collision, which seemed unnecessarily risky given that Marquez is trying to seal the championship and that San Marino is Rossi’s home race.

While neither rider was penalised for the incident, it summarised the turbulent relationship between the two including on-track collisions at Sepang (2015) and Argentina (2018). The incident also brought back memories of the spat between Marquez and Alex Rins at Brno earlier this year.

While the incident meant that Marquez only qualified in P5 (his lowest qualifying spot of the season) he claimed that it was an “extra motivation, extra push for the race.” He added, “Winning today was the best way to answer.”

Other talking points: Yamaha and Ducati

It was a good day for Yamaha as they took four out of the top five positions. Apart from Quartararo and Vinales, who were on the podium, Rossi took P4 and Franco Morbidelli took P5. This was an especially good result for Rossi (given his compromised qualifying position) and the thousands of fans who were out to support him. Rossi grew up a mere ten kilometres away from the circuit, sharing, “Racing here in front of my fans is fantastic because it really is my Grand Prix.”

Misano is Ducati’s home grand prix and the team has huge support, which Andrea Dovizioso compared to the excitement surrounding Ferrari at Monza. Despite being last year’s race winners, Ducati had expected a difficult race at Misano following the recent MotoGP test. Dovizioso explained, “A lot has changed since then (last year). Now my rivals are stronger, and the track has changed. I don’t know if the less grip is due to the treatment or if the asphalt is worn, but this is the situation. Dovizioso managed to finish P6 with teammate Danilo Petrucci in P10, which is not a bad outcome for Ducati given the prevailing circumstances.

Suzuki’s Rins, who won last fortnight at Silverstone, had a nightmare race at Misano as he crashed out of contention.

Marquez’s Honda teammate Jorge Lorenzo finished in P14. While Honda played up Lorenzo’s result — saying he had grabbed a back-to-back points finish since coming back from his injury — surely, he would be hoping for better. Interestingly, tucked between the Honda bikes of Marquez and Lorenzo were riders from all other manufacturers.

Marquez inches closer to championship

The victory at Misano means that Marquez has all but stitched up this year’s world championship. He shared, "It's nice to win in Italy, but even nicer to lead by 93 points in the championship." Dovizioso sits comfortably in second place but things are getting heated further down the standings. Rins’ DNF meant that he was jumped by Danilo Petrucci for third place in the championship standings.

Next weekend, the action shifts to Spain for the Aragon MotoGP. It is Marquez’s home race and he will surely want to dominate the show. The question is, will his rivals let him? While he cannot claim the title at Aragon, a strong performance will put him closer than ever. It is also Rins’ home race, and he will be seeking redemption for his poor performance at Misano.

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Updated Date: Sep 16, 2019 11:11:00 IST