Spaniard Marc Marquez screamed with joy as he snatched victory on the final lap at the San Marino Grand Prix on Sunday to close in on a sixth MotoGP world title.
The 26-year-old Spaniard said his motivation had been high after his spat with local hero Valentino Rossi in qualifying on Saturday.
“I knew there was no need to win because (Andrea) Dovizioso was far behind but what happened yesterday (Saturday) in qualifying gave me extra motivation and winning today was the best way to answer,” said Marquez.
Marquez and Rossi both insisted the other had deliberately ruined his chance to start on pole position as they pushed for the best time on the final lap in qualifying.
Honda rider Marquez, starting on the second row, matched Rossi with a third MotoGP win in Misano, finishing ahead of France’s Fabio Quartararo, on a Yamaha-SRT, who had the lead for most of the race.
Pole sitter Maverick Vinales completed the podium for Yamaha.
Marquez now has a 93-point lead on Italian Ducati rider Dovizioso with six races left this season. Dovizioso finished sixth on Sunday in front of his home crowd.
Seven-time MotoGP world champion Rossi — who last won in Misano in 2014 — finished fourth 12.660sec behind Marquez after starting from the third row.
“At the end I just decided to go for it,” said Marquez, after his seventh win this season after being pipped on the line in the last two races at Silverstone and the Dutch GP. “Having lost two races on the last corner burned a bit. Fabio, however, is ready to win a race and, starting next year, fight for the championship. now I can say that it is very nice to win in Italy.”
Marquez has now won 77 Grand Prix races in all categories to overtake British legend Mike Hailwood, who competed in the 1960s.
The Spaniard has won 51 MotoGP races, 16 Moto2 and 10 Moto3 — and is fourth overall behind Giacomo Agostini (122), Rossi (115) and Angel Nieto (90).
“It was a very tough race,” said Quartararo, 20, who has now achieved four podium finishes in his first season. “It was the first time that I battled like that with Marquez.”
Marquez claims a sixth win in Misano and third in the MotoGP category after 2015 and 2017. He matches Rossi’s record of three wins at the San Marino MotoGP.
Suzuki’s Alex Rins, winner in Silverstone, lost his third place in the championship standings after crashing out of the race, with the next round at home in Valencia next weekend.
In Moto2, Spaniard Augusto Fernandez also snatched victory on the final lap to make it back-to-back wins after Silverstone.
The 21-year-old Kalex rider’s audacious overtaking move on the final lap gave him victory over Italian pole sitter Fabio di Giannantonio.
Spain’s Alex Marquez — younger brother of Marc Marquez — consolidated his overall world championship lead by finishing third.
In Moto3, Japan’s Tatsuki Suzuki started on pole to claim his maiden victory after a thrilling seven-rider battle at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, near Rimini in eastern Italy.
Suzuki’s victory was charged with emotion as he races for the team of Italian Paolo Simoncelli, whose son Marco died after an accident in 2011, with the Misano circuit named in his honour.