News 4 May 2020

Vinales breaks through in Virtual Grand Prix of Spain

Moto2 race won by Baldassarri as Rodrigo takes out Moto3 affair.

Image: Supplied.

Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Vinales has finally tasted Virtual MotoGP glory in Sunday’s Red Bull Virtual Grand Prix of Spain.

He was beaten by both Alex Marquez and Francesco Bagnaia at Mugello and then by Bagnaia in an epic last-lap scrap at the Red Bull Ring, but it was third time lucky in Jerez.

The event is in aid of the official charity of MotoGP, Two Wheels for Life, raising funds for their campaign to fight Covid-19. The world first Red Bull Virtual Grand Prix of Spain – with three classes all racing – saw some incredible drama and good behind-the-scenes laughs.

As the lights went out, breath was bated as the opening corner approached and once again it was nothing short of chaos as six riders went down, including poleman Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and eventual race winner Vinales.

In the early stages at the front, Bagnaia and Alex Marquez were looking to escape and making themselves some space, but then Marquez crashed out after contact with the Italian in the final sector and it was game back on.

Red Bull KTM Tech 3’s Iker Lecuona found himself in second after he managed to stay clear of the carnage in front of him, but his chances of finishing on the podium evaporated on lap three when he crashed at the penultimate corner.

In an incident that also saw Quartararo caught up, suddenly Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was then promoted to second and had a debut virtual rostrum finish in his sights, but it was far from over.

The reigning world champion was put under all sorts of pressure by both Vinales and Alex Marquez after the pair had rediscovered their form following earlier crashes, and both swooped through on the number 93 after a mistake at turn two.

The trio were split by nothing on lap five, but the gaps would quickly grow as Alex Marquez edged clear of Vinales for second and the number 12 did the same to Marc Marquez. Behind, Quartararo and Lecuona came together again as the Frenchman couldn’t seem to stop crashing.

At half race distance, Vinales ran wide, allowing Marc Marquez back through for third, but the Spaniard didn’t hold the final podium place for long, crashing out just moments later. With just three laps remaining, Alex Marquez then crashed out of second at turn two, only for the leader Bagnaia to then suddenly crash as well.

Vinales coped with the pressure in the closing stages and remained cool, calm and collected to take the chequered flag for his first ever virtual victory, particularly sweet after just missing out on his previous two attempts. Alex Marquez ultimately finished second, with Bagnaia dropping down to third.

Marc Marquez ended up fourth, despite slowing up on the final two laps to have a fight and some fun with Ducati Team’s Danilo Petrucci, coming out on top as the Italian eventually crashed out during that self-made scrap.

Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins, a big victim of the turn one drama, pounced on Petrucci’s error to take the final top five spot ahead of the Italian in sixth. Red Bull KTM Tech 3’s Miguel Oliveira came across the line in seventh, ahead of Quartararo, although the Frenchman can take some solace from setting the fastest lap.

Lecuona took ninth, ahead of Aprilia’s test rider Lorenzo Savadori in 10th on his virtual debut for Aprilia Racing Team Gresini. Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) took 11th and he was also deemed the likely culprit for the turn one chaos, but had no regrets about trying.

FlexBox HP40’s Lorenzo Baldassarri was eventually able to cruise to victory in Moto2 after somehow managing to stay upright during a raucous fight in the early stages, with Petronas Sprinta Racing’s Jake Dixon and Bo Bendsneyer (NTS RW Racing GP) completing the podium and both after plenty of drama of their own.

Kommerling Gresini Moto3’s Gabriel Rodrigo made a little history on Sunday as he claimed victory at the Red Bull Virtual Spanish Grand Prix, fighting off home heroes Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Albert Arenas (Aspar Team Gaviota) for the win.