Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) was utterly dominant on Sunday at the Gran Premio Red Bull de Andalucia, with Maverick Vinales and Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP teammate Valentino Rossi having a memorable fight for the rostrum – this is the Doctor’s first podium since the 2019 America’s GP.
For the first time since Phillip Island 2014, Yamaha had three machines on the podium.Quartararo got the best launch from the front row with Rossi also getting away splendidly from P4, but drama unfolded behind as fifth place Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3) crashed in a Turn 1 melee that involved Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Bradley Smith (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini).
The Portuguese rider was down and out of the race, with Binder running off the circuit and dropping to the back, with Smith’s race compromised too.There was a three-way Yamaha scrap at the front though and it was Quartararo leading Vinales and Rossi, who had a slight gap to the two Pramac Racing riders of the quick starting Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia.
Quartararo was getting down to business though and ViAales was wide at the final corner trying to get past Quartararo, which let The Doctor through. This spelt bad news for ViAales who could see Quartararo striding clear and the Spaniard was impatient – but there was no way past his teammate. Just behind, Bagnaia went for P4 underneath Miller but was wide, then made a miraculous save to keep his GP20 upright.
Quartararo’s lead on Lap 4 was up to 1.5 seconds and Vinales couldn’t find a way through on Rossi. The Pramac Racing duo was also breathing down the YZR-M1 rider’s neck as the number 20 Petronas Yamaha SRT started to clear off into the distance. Rossi couldn’t do anything about Quartararo’s pace that was well over half a second quicker a lap, by Lap 6 it the Frenchman’s lead was nearly three seconds.
With 10 laps down Quartararo’s lead was looking unassailable, with Bagnaia making progress to get through on Miller and ViAales, as the Italian locked his radar onto the boss’ rear wheel. However, the race in Jerez was quickly starting to become a race of attrition in the blistering Andalusian heat – some parts of the track were sitting at a ridiculous 63 degrees.
Quartararo made no mistakes in the brutal conditions to take his second consecutive victory, cementing his lead in the Championship over second-place Vinales. The Spaniard salvaged second place which could be crucial in the long run, but he had no answer for his 2021 teammate. Rossi’s return to the rostrum is more than welcomed for the 41-year-old, a mesmerising ride in these conditions by Rossi who now notches up 199 MotoGPa,c podiums, his 235th across all classes.