Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso took an expertly-crafted victory at the San Marino Grand Prix, fighting his way into the lead and unleashing incredible pace to secure only the second ever win for Ducati at the venue.
His win also makes it three in a row for the Borgo Panigale factory, having won at Brno and Austria.
It was polesitter JorgeLorenzo who shot out ahead and got the holeshot on his Ducati, shadowed by Jack Miller on the satellite Pramac Racing Ducati and Marc Marquez on the Repsol Honda.
However, Dovizioso struck quickly against the reigning champion, dispatching Marquez before picking off Miller, pushing hard to tag on to the back of his teammate as Marquez then sliced past the Aussie too – intent on keeping tabs on the Ducati duo at the front.
Unfortunately, the pace was too much for Miller, and he slid out a lap later at Turn 14.
Back at the front, Dovizioso was honing in on Lorenzo and looking to make a move. With 22 laps to go the Italian did just that, slicing past at Turn 7. He then began to pull away as Marquez tagged on to Lorenzo in the battle for second, before the number 93 then shot past with 14 laps to go as Lorenzo ran wide.
Lorenzo wasn’t done though and retook the position a few laps later at Turn 8, a move which lit the touch paper on a few spectacular exchanges between the two. Once past, Lorenzo put the hammer down and Lorenzo set about cutting the gap to his teammate. Tenth by tenth, the Spaniard was reeling him in – and the gap went back down to 1.3 seconds. Dovizioso began to respond, but drama suddenly hit the front on the penultimate lap when Lorenzo suddenly slid out of second.
That Dovizioso in free air at the front to take his first ever win at the venue, having managed the race to perfection. Marquez took second and extended his championship lead, with Crutchlow’s impressive pace and race rewarded by a podium after the late drama.
Dovizioso said: “I wanted this win so badly, because here at Misano Ducati and I have always struggled in recent years. In the test in August however we realised that we had made an important step forward and we could be competitive in the race. We worked really well during the weekend, in very different conditions, but both Lorenzo and Marquexz are very strong here so to win I had to do a perfect race. I started off in the right frame of mind, fully focussed on the race strategy, and when I took the lead, I pulled out a small advantage and then managed the situation until the finish.
“I’m really pleased, because winning here at Misano was very important for Ducati but also for me. Years ago it seemed like an impossible dream, but now we’ve done it and it fills me with so much satisfaction.”
Outside of the podium places Suzuki’s Alex Rins impressed on the softer compound rear tyre to get well in the initial fight and then hold great pace to the flag, not able to stay ahead of Crutchlow but nevertheless holding station in the top five until Lorenzo’s late crash saw him take fourth.
Yamaha’s Maverick Viñales took fifth after dropping back slightly from a front row start and suffering a more difficult race, holding off some steady pressure from Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, who took sixth.
It was a difficult Sunday at home for Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi. Missing the race through injury last season – as his special edition ‘Back to Misano’ helmet attests – Rossi had high hopes for the race that takes place so close to his home town of Tavullia. He crossed the line in seventh, retaining his qualifying position as he took the flag. Compatriot Andrea Iannone, also had a tough weekend, and came home eighth on his Suzuki.
Alvaro Bautista continued his good run of recent form and took ninth on his angel nieto Ducati, with Tech 3’s Johann Zarco completing the top ten ahead of Danilo Petrucci on the second Pramac Ducati; Petrucci had a difficult race day and was also given a 1.1 second penalty for cutting a corner early on.
Franco Morbidelli on the Marc VDS Honda beat Takaaki Nakagami on the LCR Honda to claim the honour of top rookie and twelfth, with Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro taking points for the Noale factory on home turf in fourteenth, just ahead of Ducati Test Team wildcard Michele Pirro.
Behind them? Lorenzo had remounted and dueled with KTM’s Bradley Smith to the line, but the Brit was just able to stay ahead by a tenth.