Magnificent Marc Marquez put on a last lap for his career highlight reel in beating a plucky Danilo Petrucci and conservative Andrea Dovizioso to the flag in a wet Tribul Mastercard GP San Marino e Riviera di Rimini. In doing so, he rained on Ducati’s parade, tied series leader Dovizioso for the championship lead heading to Aragon, and reminded those of us who watch racing how exceptionally gifted he truly is.

The weather gods pulled a 180° from Monday’s forecast, when it was supposed to be hot and sunny on Sunday, not Friday. Today’s rain scrambled the results in the morning WUP – witness Loris Baz sitting 3rd at the end of the session. Virtually no one had tested the 2015 racing surface in the rain. Ever. The main event, as they say, would be a lottery. Paging Jack Miller.

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Track conditions were dry up until race day.

The Moto3 and Moto2 tilts were crashfests, half of the qualifiers in each failing to finish, and a number of points scorers having found the kitty litter not once, but twice, our old punching bag and substitute rider Alex de Angelis among them. It was easy to feel apprehensive as the MotoGP race approached

Practice and Qualifying

Marquez, Maverick Viñales and a bunch of Ducatis were making lots of noise on Friday and Saturday morning. Marquez recorded Saturday’s only sub-1:33 lap late in FP3. Hard-nosed Petrucci on a Desmo GP17 led the combined times until that point. Ducati test rider Michele Pirro flogged his GP17 into Q2 along with a determined-looking Jorge Lorenzo, a big fan of this track when he rode in blue. Viñales was up near the top. Aleix Espargaro, happy with a new fairing, put his Aprilia into Q2. Cal Crutchlow, a lurking Dovizioso, Dani Pedrosa and Johann Zarco also passed Go and collected their $200.

Q1 was exciting in itself before the apparent graduates, Jack Miller on the Honda and Jonas Folger on the Tech 3 Yamaha, were both penalized for exceeding the track limit and dropped out of the pole pageant, the trophies going to Ducati pilots Alvaro Bautista and Karel “Don’t Call It a Comeback” Abraham. Q2 gave fans plenty for their money as Viñales, carrying the sole torch for the factory Yamaha delegation, pimped Dovizioso at the close to steal his first pole since Mugello. Despite crashing out on a hot lap late in the session, Marquez managed to hold on to the third grid spot, the top three contenders for the 2017 championship qualified second, third and first, respectively.

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Maverick Viñales took his fourth pole position of the season but only the first since early June at Mugello.

Crutchlow, Lorenzo and Zarco filled the second row. The perfect weather conditions of Friday and Saturday were expected to go south, so to speak, on Sunday, with rain in the forecast. Suggesting, as usual, that qualifying doesn’t always end up having much to do with the eventual result, especially when weather conditions change rapidly.

Let The Big Bikes Roll

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Jorge Lorenzo defied his reputation for not being able to race in the wet by taking the holeshot…

The wet premier class race started routinely, other than Jorge Lorenzo taking the hole shot from fifth on the grid and leading the first six laps of the race, as if the track were dry as dust. He was followed in quick succession by Marquez, Divizioso, and Viñales, with Petrucci on the fly from his start in the middle of the third row. Once Lorenzo left the premises via a Lap 6 high side on his GP17, it was these four riders who would slug it out for the podium. And Viñales, on the factory Yamaha, never appeared to assert himself, riding in fourth place pretty much all day, still in the title chase, unwilling to let the rain put him in DNFville again.

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And then this happened.

Petrucci went through the leaders like the proverbial hot knife, sliding past Dovizioso on Lap 5 and Marquez on Lap 6. He then put on a clinic of riding in the rain for 21 laps, his rhythm perfect, virtually wobble-free, with #93 and #04 staying close enough to hit him with a rock. Showing nerves of steel and flogging the Ducati joyfully in front of 97,000 fans, 96,000 of whom were pulling for Rossi, Ducati, Petrucci, Dovi, and/or even Andrea Iannone who, in yet another gruesome weekend, retired on Lap 18 with arm pump. With Rossi out injured, the list grew to include Michele Pirro (who finished 5th on a productive wild card).

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With Italian icon Valentino Rossi out with a broken leg, Danilo Petrucci gave the locals another hero to root for at Misano.

We watched intently as the last few laps of the race took shape. Petrucci, seeking his first premier class win ever, with nothing to lose and being a notorious mudder, leading the race after Lorenzo crashed out. Marquez, appearing to struggle to keep up with Petrucci and fend off Dovizioso, and with plenty to lose in the championship chase, left Petrucci in the lead all day without letting him get away. During the penultimate lap, Marquez seemed to mentally flip a coin and decided to try to win the race rather than manage it. In tricky conditions, with worn tires, he hit the front in Turn 1, took advantage of a Petrucci wobble in Turn 4, and gassed his Honda RC213V home by 1.1 seconds over the gutted Petrucci, putting in the fastest lap of the race in the last 1:47.07. Throwing caution to the wind, as it were. In stark contract to Dovizioso, willing to settle for third place, Marquez, with the heart of a champion, decided he was unwilling to settle for second. This is one reason he has three premier class titles and Dovi, as skilled and brave as he is, has none.

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Marc Marquez turned it on at the end, taking the win and moving into a share for first overall with Andrea Dovizioso.

Weather Throws a Spanner

Cue the music: “Good Times, Bad Times” by Led Zeppelin.

For those of you following our tranching exercise, we alluded last time how Scott Redding and Jorge Lorenzo consistently suffer reversals of fortune. Today, as predicted, was a great day for Redding and another dumpster fire for Lorenzo.

The Big Picture – Then There Were Three

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Dani Pedrosa isn’t mathematically out of it yet, but if he were to win the 2017 championship, the news would be overshadowed by whatever could have befallen Marc Marquez, Andrea Dovizioso and Maverick Viñales.

Today also marked the end of yet another premier class season of chasing the dream for Dani Pedrosa, who was never able to get his Repsol Honda’s tires heated up all day, could manage but two points for his 14th place finish and now trails Valentino Rossi, who no longer contends for the title, his leg and title hopes in pieces.

Round 14 in ancient Aragon looms, the last European round before the Pacific flyaway rounds and subsequent return to Valencia for the finale. With Marquez and Dovizioso now tied at 199 points and Viñales at 183, the chances of the 2017 title being undecided approaching the last Sunday of the season appear pretty decent. This was Viñales’ first race from pole with Yamaha where he failed to podium, which probably means nothing in the wet. But it was wet in Aragon in 2015. I’d like to see him close the gap with #93 and #04 before November.

For some of you, those who have a soft spot in their hearts for rookie Johann Zarco, the lasting image from today’s race will be that of him pushing his Tech 3 M1 across the finish line, utterly exhausted, for the sake of a single championship point, which says a lot about what it takes to excel in this sport. Personally, I prefer the backflips.

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Johann Zarco trails Dani Pedrosa by 50 points but it would have been 51 points if he couldn’t get his M1 across the finish line.
  • Starmag

    I can’t decide whether this will help or harm El Gato’s confidence in the wet. Like it matters anyway.

    I loved the determination of Zarco as he literally ran out of breath pushing his bike over the line for 1 measly point.

    So many really amazing rear end slide/saves by MM. He risked a lot, but was not to be denied today.

    Very poor sportsmanship by many Italian race fans to boo the winner. Rossi fans this year don’t have anyone to blame but Rossi himself.

    • Old MOron

      How I wanted Petrux to win that one. Oh well, Marc earned it.

      Does anyone know what happened to Zarco? His bike looked uncrashed. WTF? Bruce, he should be moved up a tranche for showing so much heart.

      • You’re putting him in Tranche 1? Alientown?

        • Old MOron

          Aw shucks, maybe he’s not quite ready for Alientown yet. I read elsewhere that his bike ran out of fuel. Unbelievable.

      • Sayyed Bashir

        “The Frenchman ran out of fuel on the final lap, coasting to a stop at the final corner. From there, he jumped off the bike and started to push it, getting it all the way across the finish line just in time to take 15th, and score a point.” A&R.

        • Old MOron

          Someone must’ve miscalculated his fuel consumption. I would expect it to be less during a wet race, but it seems someone on his team expected it to be much less.

          • Anyone remember seeing an M1 run dry ever before?

          • Old MOron

            Hmm, I think maybe Valentino has run out of fuel on the cool-down lap. Maaaaybe.

            I can’t believe Zarco’s fluffy-haired genius could get things wrong.

          • Old MOron

            Wow, those Tech3 tech’s really cut things closely:

            Crutchlow felt Zarco’s extra sighting lap before arriving on the grid may have caused the fuel miscalculation: “He shouldn’t have done two sighting laps! Folger finished, but he stopped on the slow-down lap.”

        • JSTNCOL

          A&R… what’s that?

          • Old MOron

            An inferior, but nevertheless informative, website.

          • JSTNCOL

            Oh yeah. It’s probably just like that MotoMatters website.

          • I’m not sufficiently well-versed in the finer points of motorcycle racing to read that.

          • I’m not allowed to read that. It’s in my contract.

    • mugwump

      Sammy Halbert did the same at the Buffalo TT.

  • Mahatma

    Jorge Lorenzo was pretty high up there at one point 😉

    • john phyyt

      That high side ; Ouch … This must be Ducati’s answer; to having a yamaha Nuru Massage.. 🙂 Bruce.
      Still ;since Mr Allen has been kind Crutchlow he has gone backwards ; so as he drops Lorenzo further I expect a late season charge.

      • Cal sits exactly two points in front of the hopelessly irrelevant Lorenzo, making it easier to ignore him, plus he hasn’t been running his gob as much as he did last year, and the year before that, and the year before

        • spiff

          Cal is all right. Maybe a bit dry.

          • Wait. Are you turning in The Doctor in favor of The Complainer? Doesn’t work for me.

          • spiff

            Oh heck no. Rossi, Rossi, Rossi!

          • spiff

            He does bitch a bit much

        • Old MOron

          Ha ha, poor Brucey. When he picks on Crutchlow, we all ask, “Why are you so hard on him?” When he’s nice to Crutchlow, we say, “Since you’ve been nice to him, he’s gone backward.”

          As for Lorenzo, I read the headline, but not the story. The headline claims it was a lapse in concentration that cost him the win. I’m inclined to call bullshit. This is the guy who hammers out lap after lap of consistency. He’s been called a machine on several occasions because he’s so consistent. Now we’re supposed to believe he would’ve won but for a lapse in concentration?

          To be fair, I don’t have an alternate explanation in mind. But a lapse of concentration, especially so early in the race, just doesn’t sound convincing to me.

          • john phyyt

            The Ducati has wild in it’s DNA. Right down to bone ( Frame; Coding) . It is what I was saying previously. I believe Marquez could extract max from Ducati because of his super-senses.. Stoner was same. Lorenzo More like Doohan. Give him consistency and then magic will come. All of these riders are other-worldly so it is a matter of thousands/inch which makes the difference.
            As for Mr Allen’s assertion that fifth in the World Championship is a trifle. Well . I guess untill he or I can claim a similar world standing . we will have to disagree. If I am every fifth in the world I will be partying like it is 1999.

          • Old MOron

            Well, in order to celebrate fifth in the standings, you have to look at the context. It would mean that he beat Rossi who broke his leg and stopped racing. He beat the rookies and some satellite riders. I don’t know. Kind of takes the shine off the result.

            As things are, he’s 9th, behind a rookie and two satellite guys. Sure Petrux and Cal are on 2017 bikes, but many times they get stuck with testing duties instead of working on their setups.

          • john phyyt

            I think Rossi was seventh in first Ducati year. So I guess it is all relative.

      • You’re the only guy I know who calls me Mr. Allen. I’m starting to like it. Like when you call the IRS agent handling your audit and her voicemail answers, “This is Mrs. SoAndSo with the IRS…

        • Old MOron

          Or when you call VerticalScope and the voice mail greeting is,
          “Take off, eh. Mr SoAndSo is not here. If you want to know something, follow him on twitter.”

  • Old MOron

    “…in front of 97,000 fans, 96,000 of whom were pulling for Rossi”
    Ha ha, many a truth is spoken in jest. But today’s race was a good one. I enjoy rain races. Bravery and strategy are equally rewarded.

    How about Romano Fenati? He’s like the Michael Phelps of Moto 3.

    • If I was organizing a tug-of-war I’d want Fenati on my side. He is probably something of an asshole, looks plenty capable of violence, but the guy has stones the size of manhole covers and rides the SHIT out of that bike. Plus he’s big enough to wrestle the 1000s. Two years.

      • JSTNCOL

        Kind of reminds me of Biaggi. But not as small.

  • Sayyed Bashir

    KTM riders finished 10th and 11th despite wet conditions.
    #9 Jonas Folger time should be +54.082.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Also KTM will have four bikes in MotoGP in 2019.

  • spiff

    I enjoyed the race. Lots of good stories. Zarco proved heart. I think it is good that Lorenzo was all in. Crashing isn’t a good thing, but at least he was swinging the bat. Also Marquez, to quote Bruce, “and reminded those of us who watch racing how exceptionally gifted he truly is.” I think he planned the last lap as to not give Petrucci a chance to respond, but that is the way he is. He is also getting along with the Honda as well.

  • Funny how some of our regulars, the Rossiti, don’t even bother rolling out of bed these days to share their twisted thoughts on the various conspiracies keeping him from that 10th title, how he’s not done yet, how he could do it again next year, and so on. On the other hand, had that been #46 instead of #25 running fourth he might have won that race.

    • spiff

      I post just before you. Lol You trying to call me out.

      • Dangling a shiny object in front of you with VR46 engraved in it.

    • spiff

      It is funny you mention it though. It definitely was not as much fun without Rossi riding. Not so much the race, but more the practice and qualifying. I need to find a new rider.

      • Fifty_three

        Ya, without Rossi, MotoGP just becomes a boring race with a lot of tongue.

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      The Illuminati.

  • justme2day

    Better luck next time Dani, Repsol to the front young man !

    • Gruf Rude

      Honda punked Hayden when they built their bike to match the diminutive Pedrosa, but it seems that being a flyweight hasn’t turned out to be the advantage they envisioned.
      Less weight is a positive for the bike itself (think unsprung weight) but it appears the riders’ ability to shift weight around (think gangly Rossi) is a bigger factor than commonly thought.

  • Vrooom

    Didn’t expect a wet race. Surprised that the three title contenders all stayed in the top 4 in the wet, at least Petrucci was there though he’s not the level of outlier that sometimes shows up in the wet. He’s really stepped up this year, it took a hell of a lap on Marquez’ part to get past him. Meanwhile my Zarco had to push his bike, he’ll never win that way, though it sure shows desire. Maniac Joe retired with arm pump, never thought I’d see that day.

    • spiff

      Petrucci is showing that he deserves the 2017 Duck. Also, I think your man Zarco had a personal victory today. He’ll never forget that point.

  • Old MOron

    So what do people think about Desmo Dovi?
    Recently we’ve been saying things like, “He’s the thinking man’s racer.”
    “He’s a master tactician.” etc.

    But what about yesterday? Is it fair to say he was boring? The riders had no opportunity to set their bikes up for a wet track. If Dovi didn’t have the set-up, he did the right thing by bringing home as many points as he could safely do so. But damnit, it was boring.

    • He used to be strong in the wet, before he had so much riding on it, as it were. Looked to not be taking any chances in the rain.

      • spiff

        I’m with Bruce on this one. He proved a couple of races ago that he can duel, but today was all about points, and hoping Petrucci would force 93 to make a mistake.

      • Old MOron

        You’re right, of course. And to his credit, he did seem to try to hang in there for a while. But I’m greedy now. I want DeathWish Dovi, not Desmo Dovi.

        • Gruf Rude

          You had that with Idiot Iannone; not real impressed with how that worked out.

          • Old MOron

            I’ve been trying to say: it’s not him. It’s me. He’s smart. I’m greedy.

            So sue me. C’mon DeathWish Dovi!

  • JMDGT

    At this point I hope to see it go down to the last race. May the best man win.

    • Old MOron

      Oh, you mean “Let Valencia decide”?

      • JMDGT

        It would be nice to see all riders and machines performing at optimum all the way to the end. Here’s to a competitive rest of the season.