In a memorable last lap duel, the incomparable Marc Marquez took brash French rookie Fabio Quartararo’s lunch money, after threatening to take it for 26 laps. In the process he was able to check off all five boxes on his Sunday to-do list:

  • Win a last-lap battle;
  • Rain on an Italian parade, no Rossi or Morbidelli;
  • Put young Fabio in his place, if possible;
  • Deny #20 an Alien card if possible; and
  • Extend his 2019 series lead to an appalling 93 points.

This, then, is me eating my prediction from Wednesday that Yamaha would not put four bikes in the top five in this race. Let’s agree that Yamaha has fixed their acceleration problem and is no longer holding Maverick Viñales or Valentino Rossi back. Let’s stipulate that the Petronas satellite bikes are at least as fast as the 2019 version when fitted with the same engine.

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Marc Marquez bided his time behind Fabio Quartararo before making a final-lap push. The two swapped spots a few times before the reigning champion came out ahead of the rookie.

And let’s agree that Marquez played young Fabio today, let him feel the pressure all day, stayed on his rear tire, just watching. Saving his tire. Figuring out where to mount the assault. Turn 1 of the final lap, followed moments later by an exchange of places out of which Marquez emerged with the lead. He blocked young Fabio at every turn, so to speak, on the second half of the lap to hold on for another convincing win, one made a touch sweeter by taking place in Italy, where he is roundly loathed. Viñales found his way to the third step of the podium, more Pop Gun today than Top Gun. And Rossi finally found his way past #21 Franco Morbidelli late in the day, the teacher outrunning the student to the flag. Having discounted Viñales I had either #21 or #46 on the podium.

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With a dramatic victory, Marc Marquez moved past Mike Hailwood into fourth on the all-time Grand Prix wins list witn 77.

Currently, Jorge Lorenzo is Just Another Rider

After 13 rounds last year, factory then Ducati #2 Jorge Lorenzo had 130 pts and Danilo Petrucci, on the Pramac Ducati, 110. This year Lorenzo has 23 points on the Honda while Petrux has 151 on the factory machine. Don’t let anyone tell you that Danilo couldn’t outride Lorenzo on the Desmosedici GP19. It says here that Lorenzo now has the yips on the Honda RC213V. Been saying it for a while. I think he would be slower this year on the Ducati than he was at the end of last year, too. Today he started 18th and finished 19th.

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It’s time for Jorge Lorenzo to reflect on his legacy and his career tragectory.

Alberto Puig who, I sense, has a little-man complex, said as much. Lorenzo is unable to admit that he is terrified by the unpredictability of the RC213V and is not unaware that it came close to putting him in a wheelchair. In my unsolicited opinion, Jorge needs to examine those things that are important in his life and retire from motorcycle racing, let it go, be thankful for three world premier class titles. While he can walk away, literally, on his own terms, Honda would undoubtedly be happy to accommodate waiving his contract commitment for 2020 without penalty. Let Honda worry about the #2 factory seat; Lorenzo needs to worry about Lorenzo. He has more than enough money for a lifetime of leisure, which he has richly earned. Make Casey Stoner his role model. Retire as close to the top of your game as possible.

Practice and Qualifying

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Fabio Quartararo looked strong during the practice sessions.

Friday belonged to 2019 ROY lock Fabio Quartararo, who flogged his Petronas Yamaha M1 to the top of both timesheets. Saturday’s hero was Pol Espargaro, who passed directly into Q2 and thence to the middle of the first row of the grid on Sunday, the first ever front row qualifying session for KTM in MotoGP.

World Circuit Marco Simoncelli proved itself to be a very friendly venue, one enjoyed by Honda, Yamaha, KTM and Suzuki, with Ducatis, despite their strong recent history, lagging and Aprilia once again up the creek.

Q2 started with Viñales and Quartararo favored for pole. Two Suzukis in Q2, 2 KTM. Yamahas occupied three of the top four spots and four of the top seven, paced by Viñales on pole, Quartararo in P3, and a strong-looking Morbidelli on the inside of Row 2.

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Maverick Viñales took the pole, with Pol Espargaro in second to give KTM its first front-row start in MotoGP. Fabio Quartararo qualified third.

Rossi stood seventh after a late Q2 altercation with Marquez (P5), upon which fans will be divided as to who was at fault. I couldn’t tell, but at the moment it occurred Marquez had two red bars, was shooting for pole and Rossi wasn’t, ergo Rossi had less to lose in a close encounter, ergo he took it upon himself to punish, vigilante-style, Marquez running wide after his having blitzed Rossi on the inside, by pushing him into the green, nullifying the lap entirely for both riders, then putting on a bit of a block-pass, causing Marquez to apply the brakes and raise his hand, no mas, no mas. Marquez seen laughing about it shortly thereafter in his garage. Race Direction asked if they could stop by later to discuss the incident, which resulted in nothing other than some excellent beer, wine and cheese all around, Marquez beaming, Rossi impassive, seething. Robbed of his crown by this impertinent, disrespectful, egotistic Spaniard; sick and tired of it all. In his home crib. As they say in Tennessee, “disgracious.”

One wonders what would have happened had their encounter taken place for the win on Sunday.

The Race

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Valentino Rossi beat Franco Morbidelli to take his third consecutive fourth-place finish.

Much like my cheese sauce, today’s race quickly separated into several clots of riders, the races inside the race generating much of the interest on Sunday. Marquez and Quartararo went off on their own, leaving the Yamaha machines of Viñales, Morbidelli and Rossi to tussle over the final podium spot. Viñales failed to take real advantage of his first pole since Qatar but had enough to hold off the reigning GOAT and young Franco, who keeps looking better and better, with Andrea Dovizioso closing in sixth.

KTM’s Espargaro celebrated beating an ascendant Joan Mir (SUZ) for P7, with Jack Miller and Petrucci closing out the top ten in their non-threatening Ducs. Riders who failed to see the flag included Ducati wild card Michele Pirro, as well as pretenders Cal Crutchlow (HON), Alex Rins (SUZ) and rookie Pecco Bagnaia (DUC).

We have stated our belief that no one, not even young heartthrob Fabio, can get their Alien card until they’ve beaten a Marquez or a Rossi or a Dovizioso, etc., mano a mano for their first MotoGP win. (Danilo Petrucci did that at Mugello and no one sought to make him an Alien.) Today might have been Quartararo’s day to become a full-fledged Alien, had he been able to hold off Marquez on that eventful last lap.

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Though Fabio Quartararo is still searching for his first career MotoGP win, his four podium finishes and strong qualifying performances suggest it may just be a matter of time. Lessons learned in today’s battle with Marc Marquez will serve him well in the future.

Despite Marquez’ difficult recent last-lap encounters with Rins and Dovi, I don’t believe #20 had a prayer today. Today, I think, was “On behalf of the Aliens and myself, welcome to MotoGP, Fabio, please find a way to be happy finishing second. Let me know when you feel capable of winning.”

Tranches

After Silverstone:

Tranche 1: Marc Marquez
Tranche 2: Andrea Dovizioso, Alex Rins, Fabio Quartararo, Valentino Rossi, Maverick Viñales, Cal Crutchlow, Jack Miller
Tranche 3: Danilo Petrucci, Pol Espargaro, Joan Mir, Takaa Nakagami, Franco Morbidelli, Miguel Oliveira
Tranche 4: Johann Zarco, Aleix Espargaro, Pecco Bagnaia, Andrea Iannone
Tranche 5: Jorge Lorenzo, Karel Abraham, Hafizh Syahrin, Tito Rabat

After Misano:

Tranche 1: Marc Marquez
Tranche 2: Andrea Dovizioso, Alex Rins, Fabio Quartararo, Valentino Rossi, Maverick Viñales, Franco Morbidelli, Pol Espargaro
Tranche 3: Danilo Petrucci, Joan Mir, Takaa Nakagami, Miguel Oliveira, Cal Crutchlow, Jack Miller, Johann Zarco
Tranche 4: Aleix Espargaro, Pecco Bagnaia, Andrea Iannone
Tranche 5: Jorge Lorenzo, Karel Abraham, Hafizh Syahrin, Tito Rabat

Up Next: Aragon

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#93 now leads the 2019 MotoGP championship by 93 points.

MotoGP teams must not pass GO, may not collect $200, and must proceed directly to dusty Aragon for Round 14 of an increasingly discouraging 2019 season. The track, with its fake 3,000-year-old stones juxtaposed against the gigantic video walls is a memorable sight. If there is a positive note about today’s outcome, it’s that it eliminated any possibility that #93 could clinch the title this time around. The odds of a title at Buriram went to 35% while Motegi climbed to 65%.

We will be back mid-week with a look ahead at the Aragon round.